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There is a week to go. It might be more than a week in actual time but with the drive down to London to take into account from here in Scotland the Salute 2014 wargame show will begin for me in one week’s time. Three days away from home and family and my one actual convention in person this year. Its been a year for re-structuring for the company and that includes our scale of commitment to Salute. We will be having a smaller stand and no demonstration game this year. Also since its the first time that my own baby The Ion Age has been in existence at this time of year the whole of the trade stand is being occupied by our fantastic 15mm science fiction range. That being said we are well under way for new websites, new resin production plant and some of the most kick ass products on the market.
The ramp up to Salute is one of the most busy times of my year and this year is no different. In fact it looks like its a record year for pre-orders for collection on the day (many of these are from Flintloque players and also fans of Alien Squad Leader) and if it keeps going we might have to leave some of the stock behind here to make room for packages! I am not overly surprised at the Alternative Armies pre-orders as this is the first time in my involvement in wargaming that a show I attend has no Flintloque at it. I got permission to make an excellent offer to fans including the expected discount but also a free brand new character miniature.
I have something a little different in mind too and the company will be making several new product releases at Salute 2014 on the day. These will be new codes which will be previewed just before the show on the relevant blogs and then released during the week following the show. Meaning those there on the day will get the first look and chance to buy. In fact the theme for the day is ‘Malig Madness…15mm Space Goblins’ so that is more than a clue plus for 15mm.co.uk I will have the entire brand new Loud Ninja Games range and two new packs purpose designed for the Human Colonial Army template in Alien Squad Leader 2.0.
I would be the first to admit that I am tired. I work hard, I work all the time but this event stokes it to the maximum. That being said I am super keen on going as I just love to shake hands and see all the people who make an effort to come along and see us or me personally. The day itself is also excellent with all of the traders and games put on with a lot to see. There is no bring and buy this year and I will be interested to see if the attendance is also down on last year. Over the last two weeks I have seen many more comments online than before about wargamers choosing not to attend.
In any event this will be my last posting here for a while and I will have no time for musing before the big day. If you are going along pop by the Alternative Armies stand and say hello…I will be the guy with the big smile and the Ion Age t-shirt on.
Snapping at my heels for a over a year is what is new to everyone else in the world but is an old friend to me. The Loud Ninja Games range of Chuhuac or Space Raptors in 15mm and 28mm scale. You can read all about the now full release of these miniatures through 15mm.co.uk on the blog that I run there or you can go right to the website and see them all there. As it is those places will show you the product and tell you about it but it will not tell you my own feelings which I am putting here.
Its been a long and at times a bit sore road across more than a year to get the Space Raptors from concept to green to production and then produced in the very large numbers needed for the fulfilment of the funded Kickstarter that brought them into existence. Every challenge was met by myself and the rest of us at 15mm.co.uk and we overcame them all. I have enjoyed it all though and so far the happy emails and online forum posts have proved that wargames adore them too. I have to praise Eli Arndt though who has remained positive and energized about the Chuhuac right from the start and has put the comments of his customers first all the time. Now that the Space Raptors are on regular retail sale the wider world will get a chance to own them and as of this morning quite a few people have taken up the challenge. Personally I do not care much for space dinosaurs as an idea and I won’t be gaming with them but it does not matter as you would not expect me to adore every release of the hundreds a year I oversee. Would you?
Loud Ninja Games should be set to grow with the support of the wargaming community across the globe and I look forward to seeing what other madness comes out of the mind of the ‘I See Lead People’ blogger. Trying to turn an idea in to reality is a challenge even when you have the experience and skill set to do it. But trying it as a newbie to the industry takes nerves of steel. For many it does not work out and the hurdles along the way can trip them up. But not this time. Oh’ and I made a new friend too.
Well done Eli my friend!
It has been a dream of mine for a number of months to get a Kindle and be able to read all of the science fiction tales to be had through that device which are not availiable in paperback form. Self Publishing, once the hated bastard offspring of the ‘proper publishing house’ is now in its own element. It’s a digital age and the world has indeed changed. I wanted to read of that change for myself and see if things ‘rejected’ by some would be good enough to entertain others. I also know there will be a lot of let down and dross to wade through too but we can all enjoy that together. This festive season my good lady surprised me with just such a device and once I had it set up my first port of call was to purchase the ebook Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos. Having had two days off I managed to read the whole novel while attending to all the other madness of the holiday. So aside from being my first non-paper reading experience in hand what was the book actually like? Read on for my own review starting with a short web lifted synopsis.
The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to 2,000 calories of badly flavored soy every day. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service. With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. But as he starts a career of supposed privilege, he soon learns that the good food and decent health care come at a steep price . . . and that the settled galaxy holds far greater dangers than military bureaucrats or the gangs that rule the slums.
I began by reading the ‘free sample’ offered on Amazon and this got my attention. A few pages about Andrew Grayson, a street rat, a potential pointless hoodlum in waiting whose life is going nowhere. His only chance to get out of the PRC is the army. The book divides into three main parts and these are firstly the slums and military training, secondly military action on Earth and thirdly adventure among the colonies and a change of pace. I don’t want to spoil the tale so I will keep it short and loose. I thought I was reading one novel when I began and another when I finished and do you know what it was bloody good all the way through. I could complain about typo’s and some editing (the gods know I get them too despite a lot of editing so sod that, it was not enough to spoil the story to any degree) and I could mention the boiler house dialogue in places (some reviewers did but to be honest it made me smile, I like this kind of character speak). I will mention that the whole book is written in first person perspective and this is no mean feat believe me. The author does this well and the character grows throughout the novel and you can tell by his mannerisms. It is military science fiction and the combat scenes work well. The technology is evident but not overpowering. Infodumping is there but this is not a problem especially for first person narration. Characters were well drawn and sparse where needed but rounded where required. It kept me focused on it. In short a novel that deserves success and will impress those who want action with a little social-economic thought too.
My opinions were actually mirrored in several of the reviews I read after typing this blog post and that made me laugh. I will not hide the fact that I should and I could write a novel that would be good for fans of this genre but seriously folks take a dump or get off the can. Snippy comments by those jade green with envy over another’s success (always success not talent remember that) on forums is just sad. I tend to avoid comments and leave it with a blog review.
You can read an interview with Marko Kloos on Writers & Artists. Well worth a read for me as it actually validated my thoughts on self publishing through Amazon to Kindle for the talented writers. Lastly it also informed me of the authors new work Lines of Departure which is due out late January 2014; its been picked up by an Amazon inprint 47North so in a way Mr Kloos is no longer self publishing! Evident to this see below for the new (not designed by the author himself). He has arrived!
If you like Military Science Fiction then give this a volley of shots. Its a tungsten flechette of action packed fun that will lift you out of any crummy government apartment in the NAC for a few hours. I have pre-ordered the sequel this afternoon.
I got an email in my inbox today that made me smile. I support several charities and don’t talk about it much but one of the ones I enjoy supporting the most is Visibility a charity that assists those in the West of Scotland who suffer sight loss or blindness in their efforts to live a normal life. With the small support of myself and many, many others the charity won a prize of more than thirty thousand pounds with the Peoples Millions prize. This will allow them to do so much more excellent work.
Today is the day, across all the multi-verses today is the day. I have listen to, watched, recorded and sat the dark late at night to see all of the multitude of BBC programmes on TV and Radio to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. I could dribble on about the programme and about the books, the gifts and gadgets and the other items across the years that have form a part of my life from this mighty science fiction show. But I won’t. I will just say that since I was a wee lad its been a part of me. I have gone to exhibitions, met the cast, got autographs and that is saying something. I waited with the rest of my generation through the long 1990’s for it to return and it did in time for my own children.
From the brand new (tonight!) to the very oldest in flickering black and white Dr Who is a programme unlike any other on television. Its fans and devotees among the best of Humanity (those I have met anyway) and its lore so diverse that it has covered more ground than any other science fiction series. It has tackled issues wide and far.
So tune in tonight and if you are not in Great Britain then I feel sorry for you this time. License Fee is worth it today!
Today is the annual Children in Need event on television and I, along with the rest of the family have done my part. I enjoy watching the televised event and I do not donate money by phone. I donate money by hand held boxes, by boxes in shops and by way of Girvan Primary School’s events. Today’s event was a ‘wear your pyjamas to school’ day which mercifully it stayed dry for. After what has been a hectic week at work (see the Havelock ESO results over on the Ion Age blog) I finished up a bit early and picked the three offspring up at the school gate.
There are a lot of charities out there…a whole lot. In fact I have got to the point where I ignore almost all of them as the feeling of guilt at not dropping coins into every hand that reached out was getting me down at a deep level. This does not make me a bad person. In fact I am a ruddy good person as all who know me will point out but my resources are limited. So I choose which I support and Children get some priority in this as does the UK so Children in Need is near top of the list (after Sense). It is a very worthwhile cause.
So have a look, have a read. Have a watch if you can. Give them some money too. If you live in the UK and you walk home after work, sometimes the child you see in the street needs your help more than you might know.
In the inky stellar darkness….
Mark over at Beighton’s Shipyard blog has posted a short review of a wargaming title I partially authored a couple of years ago along with Omer Golan Joel. Its the sixth in the USEME series and its a set of rules for simple and fast fleet scale starship battles in miniature.
I have to say he did a grand job. Its not a simulation set of complex rules, it was never meant to be. Its fast and fun and with enough variety and bolt on mechanics to be adaptable to most settings. I have used it myself several times for everything from dogfights with five a side fighters to a whole fleet of dreadnoughts in the dark and also with Eli Ardnt’s fleet scale mecha for a special robotech style struggle.
Check it out!
Also if you are wondering what ‘The Big Mac’ is…well I know, I wrote it, but you will have to read it to find out!
Creatures and Nightmares!
Today I added four more new 15mm scale miniatures to the SHM Range on 15mm.co.uk. All of them created by the talented Fjodin who resides in Australia. Its true that Fjodin has other miniatures in the range but these ones, as you can see above, are excellent and to me his best yet. Three sort of ancient creatures and a nightmare horror to go with them. Useful for all sorts of things I am sure.
Only a Pistol? You are in trouble my friend!
I have included another image of the new miniatures above, a scaling shot with a standard sized Human for comparison. The point of this posting aside from virtually patting Fjodin on the back is to once more make the point that I am justly proud of the whole concept of SHM. While I do not know if these miniatures will sell well enough to cover the costs of molding and so on that is not the point with SHM. Yes, money is not the point. The point is that above you can see four miniatures (five if you include the Human Commander) which most likely would NOT EXIST without SHM. The talent that Fjodin has developed and the exposure he has had to gain more work would have been MUCH more difficult for him to achieve. So the wargamer benefits and the designer benefits too. To my knowledge I am the only person offering the chance for novice designers to get virtually any concept into production if they have the talent.
SHM gives the wargamer awesome and odd miniatures and the designer the confidence to grow. Sometimes all you need is a chance.
Well done Fjodin!
Top of the World Ma!
There are some more USEME Titles in the planning stage over at 15mm.co.uk and while I have posted about my own title in the next three (Alien Safari , delayed I know!) I have said nothing about the others; so here it goes! Provisionally titled UM015 USEME Prohibition Gangsters this booklet presents rules for two scales (15mm and 28mm) in wargaming the period in American history when booze was illegal and tommy guns the norm. That is the 1920’s and 1930’s.
This is not a period I know much about really so I was delighted when Bob McAlister over in the USA told me he was keen to write just such a title. With some assistance from his good lady and playtesters UM015 has shaped up as a solid and themed set of rules. Its the first set of wargame rules Bob has written that has made it to published stage and he is rightly proud of this achievement.
Skirmishing is the name of the game and the idea is that small groups of Cops, G-Men, Molls, Gangsters, Hooch Runners and others fight it out over objectives such as hidden stashes, nightclubs and speak easies, warehouses, the open street, flop houses and more. As with most USEME titles its ten or so characters a side but you can use more plus the solo rules engine is attached. In fact Bob handed in a manuscript that was too long when his two scenarios were included so these will be given away free on the website and also included in the paid for PDF version.
As USEME’s are budget titles for gaming fun I opted for public domain photographs and so on for the internal pages of the book and the cover is a clever bit of dress up fun on a sunny day from the creative commons licence on Flickr.
I feel that in terms of the way it plays this vision of USEME is most like UM003 USEME WW2 written by Omer Golan but without the armoured vehicles and aircraft of course and a lot more car chases. This title will be published later this summer.
I have known Tony Harwood for more than a decade and he is a great fan of Flintloque so when he mentioned online that he planned to publish a book of his terrain ideas and works I was very interested. Tony makes wonderful terrain for several different game systems and also for a couple of companies too. All of this is in his own unique style. I actually own a piece of his terrain which Tony very kindly gifted to me last year (is it in the book we will see!) for the Sharke’s Gingerbread adventure at Salute.
My House is a very, very fine Gingerbread House
One hundred copies of the book have been printed and it looks like it is selling well. I have held off ordering just now as I wanted Tony to expand his fan base and I will pick up a copy once the huzzah calms down a bit. Writing, Editing, Laying Out and Publishing a book is a daunting process (trust me I know!) and all that before you take it to a market and attempt to sell what you have come to love and often loath so much to interested parties. Tony’s works deserve to be seen by all those who are interested in wargame terrain and how it can be constructed.
You can see some of Tony’s work over on Barking Irons Online and also on his own Blog along with the book itself.
Well done Tony!