Sunday, December 29, 2013

Big book sale for both Kindle and ePub at Pen & Sword Books

I don't know how long it will last, but there is a "buy one, get one free" sale on either Kindle or ePub electronic books at Pen & Sword's website.  All of the books are 5 GBP each!  Hugh selection for all kinds of history periods, types of war (air, land, sea), crimes, etc..  My credit card is hurting...

Most of the books that I bought, I probably never would had if it was not for this sale, plus the cheap cost of the books to start off with as a price, and that they take up no physical room.  I would probably only bought 2 or 3 as hardcopies if that was the only option.  Also four of the electronic books are going to replace existing hardcopies.  So just over $82 later, I now have the following Kindle books (I love my Kindle!!!!):

Amphibious Assault Falklands: Battle of San Carlos Water by Michael Clapp & Ewen Southby - Tailyour

The Falklands War by Martin Middlebrook (To replace my hardcopy)

Argentine Fight for the Falklands by Martin Middlebrook (To replace my hardcopy)

Invasion 1982: The Falkland Islanders Story by Graham Bound

Ordeal by Exocet: HMS Glamorgan and the Falklands War 1982 by Ian Inskip

RAF Harrier Ground Attack Falklands by Sqdn Ldr Jerry Pook MBE DFC

5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands War by David Aldea & Nick Van der Bijl

Falklands Hero Ian McKay: The Last VC of the 20th Century by Jon Cooksey

Ripper Hunter: Abberline and the Whitechapel Murders by M J Trow

The Thin Green Line: The History of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC 1922-2001 by Richard Doherty (To replace my hardcopy)

A Testimony To Courage: The History of the Ulster Defence Regiment by John Potter (To replace my hardcopy)

Churchill and the Norway Campaign 1940 by Graham Rhys-Jones

The History of 30 Assault Unit: Ian Fleming’s Red Indians by Craig Cabell

Commando Tactics: The Second World War by Stephen Bull

Countdown to Valkyrie: The July Plot to Assassinate Hitler by Nigel Jones

Air war in East Africa 1940-1941 by Diana Canwell & Jon Sutherland
The Rhodesian War by Moorcroft & McLaughlin

The War on the Hospital Ships 1914-1918 by Stephen McGreal

The War of the Gun Boats by Bryan Cooper

Battleground Sussex: A Military History of Sussex From the Iron Age to the Present Day by John Grehan

Keep reading!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Xmas loot and what not

Well, I hope everyone had a good Xmas with family and friend and got cool stuff or did things that were fun.  I was stuck away from home for Xmas this year (this is not the first, nor will it probably be the last time either.)  So I got to celebrate Xmas earlier this month with my family, but I just did not post up anything about it until now.  There was a snow storm in the middle of my time off at home, but it really was not that bad.  Hopefully for all of you out there, you didn't get stuck in any bad weather.

Always be prepared to drive in the snow or be willing to help those that don't

First off, what I did during my time home: 

Besides hanging out with family and friends, I worked on cleaning out my gaming area in the basement (I can walk around my gaming tables again!) and sorting through my 15mm WW2 stuff it keep or sell (a list will be coming out soon.)  As part of the cleaning out, I bought two more 2’x4’ tables and now have them set up to have a gaming area of 4’x8’.  I don’t plan to use that much of an area, many 4’x4’ or 4’x6’ depending on the game.  The remaining unused area will be for drinks, rules, minis not on the board, etc.  Other than that, I saw two movies.  One was “The Hobbit 2”, which I really enjoy.  I was bored during the Lord of the Rings movies, but both of the Hobbit movies have kept me entertained and never bored.  The other movie was “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, which I saw on Xmas day.  I enjoyed it, but it was really different than both the short story or the original movie in terms of Walter Mitty’s daydreams cycle (i.e., in the story and the original movie, they happen regularly throughout the story, where this one has them regularly at the beginning and then they taper off to none before the end of the movie.)

Now, on to the Xmas haul:

Generally, over the past several years, I just ask for gift cards, especially now that I have a Kindle for the last couple of years.  I rather have electronic versions of books, music, and movies instead of physical copies for a bunch of reasons.  This year I got few physical copies of things, but mostly gift cards like I asked. 

Physical copies:

The Armored Fist: The 712th Tank Battalion in the Second World War by Aaron Elson.  This is a book about the tank battalion that was assigned to my grandfather’s division through most of the war in 1944-45.

“Bond 50: The Complete 23 Film Collection”, Blu-Ray – I love James Bond movies.  Some were real dogs, but overall, still one of my favorite series.
“Casino Royale” (1967), Blu-Ray – This along with “Never Say Never Again” are the two non-Eon James Bond movies that are not part of the complete film collection from above.  Now, I only need to pick up “Never Say Never Again” in Blu-Ray.
“She-Wolf of London: The Complete Series” – I have this series already on DVD’s from my recording it back when it was on the Sci-Fi Channel back in the 1990’s, but they have commercials and etc.  So, I am glad to get this set.

With my gift cards, I picked up the following electronic copies of books:
War of the White Death, by Bair Irincheev:  a book about the Winter War of 1939-40, which should make a nice companion to Frozen Hell, by William Trotter, which I am just about 50% done with now.
The Soviet Invasion of Finland 1939-40 (Soviet Military Experience), by Carl Van Dyke: another book on the Winter War that is more about the Soviet failure and how they responded to that from Russian documents instead of Western documents, so this will hopefully give me a better understanding of things from the Soviet side of the war.   This will probably be my last of the Winter War books on the ground combat, unless I find a first hand, personal account in English.
The Little Rock Arsenal Crisis: On the Precipice of the American Civil War, by David Sesser:  this is a short book about the events leading up to, and after, the surrender of the Little Rock Arsenal in Arkansas in February, 1861, by federal troops to the pro-secessionists forces.  Had Captain (later, Brigadier General) James Totten had received orders to hold, the shelling of Fort Sumter would just have been a forgotten footnote in history.
Company I, "Governors Greys" 1st Iowa Volunteer Infantry (3 months) in dress uniform
The Lyon Campaign In Missouri In 1861, Being A History Of The First Iowa Infantry, by Eugene Fitch Ware:  This is the personal accounts and general history from of one of the soldiers that served in the 1st Iowa Infantry (3 months).  It covers the 90+ days that regiment served in Missouri under General Lyon, including the Battle of Wilson Creek.
Special Forces Pilot: A Flying Memoir of the Falkland War, by Colonel Richard Hutchings DSC: this is an account of a Sea King helicopter pilot from the 846 Naval Air Squadron during the Falklands War.  It covers his part of the SAS/SBS insertion operations, the Pebble Island raid, and the failed SAS raid into Argentina, including his escape into Chile.  I am still hoping that the Pebble Island book by Cooksey will become available in electronic format soon.
Jungleland: A Mysterious Lost City, a WWII Spy, and a True Story of Deadly Adventure, by Christopher S. Stewart: this is about the 1940 expedition in Honduras by Theodore Morde, who would claim to have found the “Lost City of the Monkey God”.  Besides being an Indiana Jones like story, the “Lost City of the Monkey God” is supposedly not too far from where I was stationed in some very small villages in Honduras while I was in the army.  It is a shame that I did not know about this back then, otherwise, I would have been asking the locals about it.
Riot: A Behind-The-Barricades Tour of Mobs, Riot Cops, and the Chaos of Crowd Violence, by Loren W. Christensen: this is a balance look of riots, why they happen, the conditions needed for them to start and to continue, methods of suppressing them, and personal accounts from all sides.  I have always been interested in riots ever since back in the days in my riot control training.  It will be an interesting read.
The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Soviet Combat Tactics in Afghanistan, by Lester W. Grau: this is a replacement for a hardcopy that I have to help cut back some of the books that I own.  This is the first book of a trilogy about the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-89.
The Other Side of the Mountain: Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet-Afghan War, by Lester W. Grau and Ali Ahmad Jalali:  this is another replacment of a hardcopy of book that I own.  It is second book of the trilogy about the Soviet-Afghan war.  The final book, The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost, is still not available in an electronic format, but I am hoping that it will some day.
The Last Invasion of Canada: The Fenian Raids, 1866 – 1870, by Hereward Senior: this is yet another replacement of a hardcopy.  It is a short, but good account of the Irish Fenian raids into Canada.  I am still hoping that Ridgeway by Peter Vronsky comes out in electronic format as it is the definite account to read about the Battle of Ridgeway, the largest of all of the Fenian raids.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

THW's All Things Zombie Scenario - Airport '78: Death Flight at 37,000 feet (Zombies on a Plane)

OK, I want to first state that I have been thinking about this scenario a long time ago, even before Two Hour Wargames (THW) All Things Zombie (ATZ) came out. I did post it on the THW Blog a while back, but recent found it again while going through some of my computer files.  

I changed some things since my original outline (the spinoff of Snakes on a Plane for one), but for the most part the core idea stayed the same except for me changing it from my original Call of Cthulhu game to ATZ.  I was thinking of running it as RPG one shot at a con back in the late '80's, but never got around to finish typing it up until now.  I bring this up because this was not inspired by the trailer for World War Z with the scene with zombies on the plane, but it did inspire me to finally type out this scenario.  This scenario is greatly inspired by all of the 1970's airplane disaster movies that I grew up watching as a child and a couple of horror movies / shows, from the same time period like Horror at 37,000 Feet.  Also, as my future zombie games will mostly be taking place in the 70’s, it rather fits with the theme.  

The map that I plan to use is from Fabled Environment using their jumbo / medium size jet map set (link).  Due to scope of number of figures, I kept it to only 35(!) crew and passengers.  I will probably start with 5 “infected” passengers that become zombies while in mid-flight, randomly placed in the plane.  Since pretty much everyone starts unarmed, I figure this will be pretty much a blood bath but I could wrong.  But also, I realize that is a lot of characters, so you could scale it down to half, with 3 zombies on the medium size jet map.  (BTW, Fabled Environment also has a plan for an airship for zombies on the Hindenburg!  Let’s see if George C. Scott can stop it from blowing up this time!)

I have not play-tested this, so I really don’t know how it will turn out.  If anyone here does try it, let me know how it goes.

All cast members are classed as “Grunts, Civilians, Non-Leaders”, except where noted.  By “Non-Leader”, that means everyone not under the command of a Star or someone with the “Authority” Attribute must use their own Rep for all tests and they can never be a leader for a team. Everyone is considered unarmed excepted where noted.  Additional notes are also given on how certain cast members will interact with others
Since this takes place on airplane, I am not using PEF’s, zombie creation due to noise, or the “Meet & Greet” part of the mechanics of ATZ.  You will notice that I have created some special Attributes for this scenario that are not in ATZ-FFO.  Below is a description for them.

Pilot: Can fly the airplane and perform an emergency maneuver without skill rolls.
Flight Trained: Can fly the airplane without skill rolls but cannot perform emergency maneuvers, unless they have communications with pilot. 
Authority: Because of their position or commanding presence, this person is considered a Leader for non-Star class cast members.  They can control up to the REP in the number of Grunts.
Medical Trained:  Instead of being in combat, a medical trained person can make a skill roll on any injured person and reduce his injury by one level with one success or two levels with two successes.  An OD cannot be healed.  All inflicted rolls are still required.
Parachute:  If the player finds a parachute, they can jump from the jet.  Must make a skill roll:  Two successes – lands safely; One success – lands but is seriously injured; Zero successes – Falls to his death
Coward: Cannot attack anything, only defend.  A coward will try to break melee every chance that they get.
Screamer: Every round of combat, these persons are screaming!  A zombie will always move towards the closest source of noise and will only stop if they make contact with a human.  However, the louder the noise the extra distance the zombies will be willing to travel. 
Spells: I have not thought much on this, but I was looking as spells to “Command Zombie” allowing the caster to use the zombie to attack someone, move away, etc.

The Cast

(By the way, see if you can figure out from which movie or movies the various actors/actresses are from, hint:  Ginger Black is actually two different actresses in two different movies: Airport 1975 & SST: Death Flight, played by Karen Black and Tina Louis, who is better remembered as ‘Ginger’ from Gilligan’s Island.)

Notes:  (C: Classed, Att: Attributes, BG: Background story and relations to other characters, W: Starting weapons or gear, Sp: Special)

The Flight Crew

Captain Peter Oveur: Rep 4 (C: Star, Survivor)(Att: Pilot, Authority, Melee)(BG: Pilot of the jet, sort of odd, but nice fellow.  He does accidently, periodically mentions that he used to be a spy, but then he acts like he never said that was about him but his Uncle when asked about it.  He likes Little Joey Blair and will have him in the cockpit at the beginning of the game talking about Gladiator movies)
Co-Pilot Roger Abdul-Jabbar: Rep 3 (Att: Pilot, Fast)(BG: Very tall black male.  Claims not to be a basketball player, but gets very upset when someone is talking trash about the Los Angeles Lakers)
Flight Engineer Ponch Estrada: Rep 3 (C: Police)(Att: Flight Trained, Good Looking)(BG: Good looking crew member and a hit with the ladies.  Use to be a California Highway Patrol officer)
Chief Stewardess Ginger Black: Rep 4 (C: Star, Survivor)(Att: Flight Trained)(BG: Ex-wife of Hank McClure; she is still in love with him, but can stand to be around him until he changes his ways and cures himself)
Steward David Crystal: Rep 2 (Att: Coward)(BG: Squirrelly guy, sort of effeminate specially when talking about soap, but always willing to compliment someone by telling them how marvelous they look)

The Passengers

Disgraced ex-pilot Hank McClure: Rep 5 (C: Star, Survivor)(Att: Pilot)(BG: Ex-husband to Ginger Black, still in love with her.  Served in combat and only survivor, started drinking and lost his nerves as a pilot. But by being in this condition, he cannot be the pilot until all other cast members that are Pilot or Flight Trained are dead or OOF, except for Ginger Black and then only by passing his REP roll – 1 success, treat as Flight Trained or Pilot if talking to another, 2 successes treat as a Pilot)
George ‘Joe’ Patroni: Rep 4 (C: Star, Survivor)(Att: Authority, Pilot)(R: Hates Hank McClure for being a drunkard and blames him for two crashes, will not help him)(BG:  George always seems to be around big airline disasters in a different role and no one knows why)
US Marshall Neville 'Shaft' Jackson: Rep 5 (C: Star, Police)(Att: Authority, Brawler)(R: Escorting Prisoner DB Williams to testify against major criminal mastermind and must protect him) (W: BA pistol) (BG:  Angry man when things go south who is not afraid to cuss and doesn’t like snakes)
Prisoner DB Williams: Rep 4 (C: Star, Ganger)(Att: Greedy, Parachute)(R: Being escorted to testify against a ruthless criminal mastermind by US Marshall Neville 'Shaft' Jackson and don’t want to go because he knows that he will be killed.  He is looking to escape at any possible way or time.) (BG: He once was able to jump from a jet liner with a parachute with a large stash of cash, but no one knows that it was him.)
Microbiologist Dr Brock Therman: Rep 2, (Att: Medical Trained)(R: Carrying several test tests of highly rare and dangerous disease from Haiti.  Must protect his samples)(BG:  He is studying rare diseases that might help Little Joey Blair, but also looking for a virus that might be so deadly that no one should ever know of it)
Dr Leslie Rumack: Rep 3 (Att: Medical Trained)(W: Doctor’s bag gives him a third die to roll and replace a failed die for Medical skill)(R:  The doctor that is monitoring Little Joey Blair)
Sister Helen: Rep 3 (C: Star)(R: Escorting Little Joey Blair to the hospital research center about a rare disease)(W: Guitar – It is a club for the first turn of combat, then becomes an improved weapon)
Little Joey Blair: Rep 1 (R: Escorted by Sister Helen to the hospital, but also made friends with Captain Peter Oveur.  Starts in the cockpit at the beginning of the game)
Billionaire Buddy Clampet:  REP 2 (R: An old rich billionaire from the Ozarks that rented this flight to fly this group of people from Africa to the US.  Well liked by all, but everyone is tired about hearing how much money he has)
William Shatner:  (Sp: Either he’s insane from seeing a man on the wing or he is just plain awesome!  If he is insane, he is a Civilian, Rep 2 with the Poser Attribute.  If he is just plain awesome, he is a Star, Survivor, Rep 7 (Shatner is better than a mere mortal!) with the Authority, Brawler, Parachute, and Pilot Attributes – plus if spells do work, he can command zombies by his sheer awesomeness!)
Professor Alan Thinnes: Rep 3 (Att: Spells)(R: Has an ancient occult artifact on the plane and must protect it to prove his research on a hidden eldritch cult from pre-history.  He is slightly insane from all of his occult knowledge)
Cultist Tammy Pinder:  Rep 4 (C: Star, Ganger)(Att: Spells)(W: Ceremonial knife, Pistol, Low Ammo) (R:  A sub-leader of the dark cult and must assist and direct the zombies to kill everyone on the plane to keep the cult’s discovery a secret.)
6x Common People: Rep 3 (Att: Coward, Screamer)
6x The Old & the Lame: Rep 2 (Att: Coward, Screamer)
6x The Defenseless: Rep 1 (Att: Coward, Screamer)


If some time in the game and the humans are just getting creamed and you are not having any fun, go ahead and have a C-130 with USAF Pararescue jumpers show up and breach one of the doors.  At this point of the game, you can assume that they dropped in altitude and speed safety for the rescue, or you can make piloting rolls be done to allow the rescuers to make their entry.  Watch either Airport 1975 or Air Force One to get an idea of what is going on for the rescue.

5x USAF Pararescue jumpers: Rep 5 (C: Military)(Att: Authority, 2x Pilot, 3x Flight Trained)(W: Pistol & SMG)

Other Notes

Weapons:  For those of you too young to remember the good old days of flying in the seventies, the safety and security regulations were nowhere near as restricted as they are now.  They actually gave you real silverware to eat your meals in flight for one thing!  Plus it was not uncommon for the pilot to carry on a pistol in case of a hi-jacking.  So it is possible to have some weapons available for the humans to fight the zombies.  Diner knives, pocket knives, baseball bats, golf clubs, and broken glass bottles are just some items that can be scattered around in the plane’s passenger area if you wish.  As I mention before, none or some of the flight crew can have pistols, but they would be kept up in the cockpit with the pilot.   But keeping in the spirit of the scenario, only named cast members or the USAF rescuers should be able to arm themselves.

DB’s Escape Kit:  An inside man stashed an escape package on the airplane for DB to escape with.   It includes a small pistol, a parachute, a one-man raft & a survival kit/radio.  It is somewhere that can be gotten to, but not in the cockpit.  Yes, I know that it would be really hard to hide something that large on a plane, but zombies are not real either so work with me!  If you are so inclined, you could have a couple other escape package scattered through the plane too.

Back Story


Trans Global Airways (TGA) has been in financial troubles for a while and have not filling enough seats on their flights, especially their overseas flights. An eccentric billionaire, Buddy Clampet, decides to rent a partially full flight from Port-du-Prince to London so that the flight would not be cancelled.  Most of the passengers are very much happy that he did this, otherwise they would have been stuck in Haiti for another flight out. Unknowingly, this flight brought several interesting characters together which would make this a disastrous flight.

Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, several passengers break out in bad fevers and starting vomiting.  After some discussions, Dr. Rumack believes that they have a very violent food poisoning from the fish diners that where loaded on the plane at Port-du-Prince.  Elsewhere at the same time, Tammy Pinder is performing a dark ritual in one of the lavatories calling on a great dark one to punish Professor Thinnes for stealing an eldritch artifact. 

Prisoner DB Williams is hoping that his inside man did get the parachute and raft hidden in the plane for is great escape as soon as he could ditch the ever excitable US Marshall Jackson.  But he didn’t like the way that his inside man spoke of voodoo and would make sure that there was a really great surprise in the way that something would happen on the plane to cause a distraction.  Not far from DB was Dr Therman who secretly smuggled on board a very deadly virus that he discovered in Haiti.  Luckily, he was able to smuggle it on because of his care to the deathly ill, little Joey Blair. 

As the pilot glides the plane into a major thunderstorm, a slumbering passenger wakes up and thinks, just for a moment, that he saw a man on the wing.  That is when all hell breaks loose inside the airplane.
There's a man on the wing!


Anarchy in the UK / Cold War scenario idea: Nuclear Convoy Ambush

Well, I have been spending too much time in front of my computer and not doing more productive things.  But, I started looking back at BW Models for a possible order after Xmas.  BW Models is a very specialized company for 1/76th (20mm or OO scale) vehicles for the the British military or civil sector for WWII or post-WWII (mainly post-WWII) with over 400 vehicles or trailers kits, plus a bunch more accessories and decals.  If you are looking for any kind of support vehicle for your 20mm BAOR Cold War forces, this is the place to look (Link). 

Mainly, I was looking for some more Northern Ireland kits that will show up as part of my Anarchy project.  But looking through their catalog, I came across two kits that got me thinking of a future scenario:  BW312 AEC Mammoth Major, Nuclear Weapons Transporter & BW313 Volvo FL6, Nuclear Convoy Escort Vehicle.

Sudden I had an image of a piece of art work I remember from a young teen of Spetsnaz commandoes in civilian clothing attacking a British nuclear weapons convoy on the road as WWIII was starting.  So, hmmm....

Well, I am sure that I have now been tagged by several intelligence agencies for my Google searching, but I finally found what a typical British nuclear weapons convoy is supposed to look like from NukeWatch UK (Link).  Needless to say, the number of vehicles is way too much for a game, so I am going to down size it for playability.  Now, I need to order the vehicles and figure out a balance for the game.  
Save the nukes!