Sunday 8 May 2016

Carronade 2016: Quality time


It's been a while since I've posted anything.  No, I've not been away or been seriously ill.  I haven't had any computer disasters or anything like that.  The truth of it is that I've just not felt like putting the effort in to writing anything for my blog.  Indeed, I've not spent much energy on reading other blogs either.  I have no idea what has caused this malaise, but this post is an attempt to pull myself out of it and resume normal service.


It's show season again, at least for me.  There are not many games shows that I can attend, but Carronade (Falkirk and District Wargames Club) is an excellent event and after enjoying it so much last year (here) I was determined to attend again.  Indeed, my younger son (A.) was very much of the same mind; he had been looking forward to the show for some time.

Due to ongoing engineering works at Glasgow Queen Street railway station, A. & I decided to drive to Falkirk this year.  We could have taken the train, but with restricted services and poor connections, it would have taken much longer than normal.  As it turned out, it's a very easy drive from Helensburgh, taking perhaps 1 hour and 15 minutes.

As before, there were no queues for entrance and the doors were open even before the official start time - very nice!  An interesting touch: the entrance tickets were MDF tokens, rather than paper tickets or stamps on the hand.  These will certainly find a second use as bases for some models, rather than being discarded after the event as paper would have been.

The Hobbit

Once inside the Graeme High School buildings, we searched for some games to play.  First up, we were introduced to The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game, one of Games Workshop's better rules offerings.  This game was run by (I think) the Stirling Wargamers.

My son and I each took 2 dwarves (Fili & Kili, Gloin & Oin - if I remember correctly).  Our goal was to carve our way through goblins and across platforms within Goblin Town until we could reach the far side.

We started well (mostly; Gloin struggled to kill his first goblin) and advanced half-way across the bridge quite easily.  There we stalled for a number of turns; no matter how many goblins we killed, there were always more arriving.  Kili was wounded and for a moment it looked as if we might fail in our escape.  Then Fili and Gloin changed up a gear and started to kill multiple goblins each turn.  By the last turn of the game there were no more enemies left and our 4 dwarves simply strolled forwards to the victory area and escape!  It had been close up to that point, though...

For our participation, we were each given a goblin model; A. also gained a Hobbit badge.  Nice!

Dropzone Commander

After the Hobbit, we played a small game of Dropzone Commander from Hawk Wargames, put on by the Glasgow Gaming Group.  Our PHR enhanced humans force (tan, lower half of the picture) took on the demonstrator's Shaltari aliens (red, upper part of picture).  We shot down most of his ships and took apart one alien infantry squad and all his flak tanks.  This left us in total control of one of the buildings, although it took us a couple of turns of searching for us to actually find the objective.  In the meantime, his tanks took up position on the central high ground and his other infantry squad started to search for the other objective.

Fortunately for us, the game ended before the aliens found the item for which they were searching, so it was a draw (the Shaltari scored 1 point for the "focal point" high ground; we scored 1 point for the objective that we had found).  Perhaps we spent too much effort on (successfully!) destroying material?

From the little I've seen, Dropzone Commander seems like a capable, larger scale sci-fi wargame.  I'm not totally convinced by the premise that both sides would be airlifting forces into the battlefield at the same time, as opposed to a mobile attack on fixed defences.  Maybe that's just this scenario, though?  I was taken by the aliens' heavy dependence on teleport gates; it had the potential to make their force play very differently from the humans.


Before and after lunch (and thank goodness that I remembered to pack some sandwiches this time, rather than relying on the typical show's overpriced, under-nutritious, crowded canteen!), A. and I cruised the traders and Bring & Buy stalls looking for stuff.

A. found the following:
  • 2 packs of Perry Crusader knights (6 figures), for his incipient Crescent and Cross warband.
  • 1 second-hand Tau APC/tank.  This has been built to a moderate (not great, but not totally botched) standard and then undercoated white.  A. is very keen to expand his small Tau force for Warhammer 40K, but I jib at Games Workshop's new prices (and at many second-hand prices too!).  So far, I've managed to prevent him from spending his inheritance before he has received it...
I bought these items, most of which were on my shopping list even before the show:
  • Some matt varnish.  I had accumulated quite a backlog of models that needed to be sealed after I finished off my last can of varnish.  Postage cost for aerosols is silly these days, so I had waited for the show to make this important purchase.
  • 1 pack of Nightfolk, from Northumbrian Tin Soldier.  These are very whimsical and I'm looking forward to painting them.
  • More zombies, from Studio Miniatures.  Everyone needs a zombie in a chicken suit, right?
  • A 7TV cameraman from Crooked Dice.  Actually, I also bought a "not Captain Jack Harkness" model as well, but we couldn't find it in the bag when we returned home.  I'm pretty annoyed about losing this!  It's not so much the money, but rather that I think of myself as very careful & aware of my surroundings.  For this purchase to simply vanish without trace hurts my self esteem.
  • We saw an expansion for Zombie Dice (Steve Jackson Games).  This seemed like an appropriate gift for my other son, J. , who owns the base game.

Mad Max

The final game of the day that we managed to join was a Mad Max-style game hosted by Greenock Wargames Club.  We were warned before starting that the game might take a couple of hours.  This was about right, but even though that ate up almost all the remaining time of the show, it was well worth it!

There's a tanker truck full of fuel in the middle of the wasteland.  Victory goes to the person who manages to drive it off the table, so that's nice and straightforward, isn't it?

5 gangs started from different edges of the table.  Each had 5 or 6 vehicles with (usually) a variety of crew, weaponry and toughnesses, as well as 3 or 4 motorbikes.

A. and I took control of the "Buzzards"; 6 custom hot rods with spiky armour welded all over them.  We had very little in the way of ranged weaponry but some advantage in a collision.  So we decided we'd just accelerate as hard as we could and blitz our way across the table ("we're going that way").  This tactic resulted in a diagonal line of smoking wrecks from our edge to the far side of the table.  Some of our drivers even got up to 6th gear (or was it 5th gear + nitro?) and were throwing a d30 for movement each turn.  You cannot change course at that speed!

At the climax of the game, the truck was taken over by one of the players and it started to move towards the far table edge.  As it picked up speed, 3 of our Buzzard gang vehicles arrived alongside the tanker and we made a number of boarding attempts.  Each time, our crewman would manage to jump onto the enemy vehicle, only to be fought off by the defender.

One other player also closed with the tanker, with a large car that had 4 crew and a boarding gantry (so his odds would have been good!)  However, before he could proceed, a lone biker from the defender's side jumped onto the attacking automobile and fought his way through the entire crew to take control of the vehicle.

This seemed to seal victory for the current defender (a  grown-up who was currently in charge of both the tanker and the "gantry" car).  However, in the very last move of the game, a kid on the other side of the table used his last vehicle to tail-end the truck.  The car was destroyed, but the driver leaped onto the tanker and proceeded to fight his way into the cab before driving off into the sunset.  An unexpected, but well-deserved victory for the boy!

This was a thrilling game with a massive amount of carnage (though the monster truck was a bit disappointing) and it could have gone any of 3 or 4 ways at the end.  A. came home with a set of the Greenock club's home-brew Mad Max rules, with visions of using his Hot Wheels collection in new and exciting ways!


The return journey was uneventful.  We stopped briefly on the outskirts of Falkirk so that I could have a coffee (I've sometimes felt very tired when facing a long drive at the end of the day).  A. slept for most of the way back; this is not unusual for 13 year old boys.  However, before drifting off, he did ask me if we could go to Claymore (Edinburgh) in August.  I think he must have enjoyed the show!


  1. Sounds like a great day with some fun games played. Interested to see you using the anti shine varnish. I avoid aerosol varnishes like the plague nowadays. I find I just can't guarantee that the varnish won't frost, no matter the temperature, humidity or even how much I shake the can. Voodoo! I prefer to use W&N painters varnish, cheaper than the cans and lasts for ages.

    1. Thanks, Lee. Carronade is a really good show and I will be doing my best to attend every year in future, I think.

      Yes, I use spray varnishes; I've never really had a problem with them. One hears all sorts of horror stories, but that's not been my experience. I've used both Army Painter Anti-Shine and Testors Dullcote before; both work well for me.

  2. Looks like a great day and great haul!

    1. Thanks, HW. It was indeed a delightful day out!

  3. Good to see you posting again and Carronade looks like a cracking day out.

    1. Thanks, Michael. I'm still not sure that I'm completely over my lethargy, but Carronade certainly helped to lift my mood!

  4. Glad you enjoyed the show - hope you can make it again next year

    1. I'll be doing my best to attend, David. Thanks!

  5. A great day spent with the family. Bad luck about the camera man. There is nothing worse than losing something.

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, as did my son. It wasn't the Crooked Dice cameraman that was lost, however. Rather, it was the male "temporal traveller", who bore a striking resemblance to Captain Jack Harkness.

  6. Sounds like a very good show and the two of you obviously had a cracking time, with plenty to chat about on the way home.
    Bummer about the lost figure.

    1. It was a great show, though slightly dampened at the end of the day by the lost figure. Still, my memories of the day are overwhelmingly positive.

  7. Oooooo ... game show loot. Heck hobby loot of any kind is great. :)

    1. I'm planning my purchases much more in advance these days; I wrote a list before I went to the show. Mind you, there were still some impulse buys :-) ...

  8. For people living near Greenock, the Greenock & District Wargaming Club have a forum and a facebook page. for the forum.

    1. Thanks, Liam; that might be interesting!

      Although technically I do live near Greenock, the town is on the other side of the Firth of Clyde from my house. To get there I'd have to drive 20 miles upriver to the Erskine bridge and then back on the other side of the river, so not as handy as it sounds!