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KICKSTARTER LAUNCHED   TRENCH CLUB LEGACY FROM PKB GAMES We're glad to announce the Kickstarter for PKB Games Legacy edition of their st...


For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!






We're glad to announce the Kickstarter for PKB Games Legacy edition of their stunning game Trench Club.  If you liked Company of Heroes, you'll definitely want this.

Magnificent full colour boards

Variety of troops in detailed miniatures

Plus the Legacy mode

All that the original game contained has been increased with the addition of a Strategic map board that allows you to craft your own path and destiny through WWI.  Create your own story with the legacy campaign, adapt the map, unlock new units and weapons.  The original was stunning...this takes you even further.

Click HERE to access the Kickstarter video.

 WINGS OF GLORY Is there anyone out there in the wargaming world who hasn't heard of Wings of Glory , just one of the most accessible an...


For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



Is there anyone out there in the wargaming world who hasn't heard of Wings of Glory, just one of the most accessible and enjoyable games on the air war in WWI.  Dogfighting, balloon busting, reconnaissance - you name it, you got it.  Superb pre-painted models of all the famous planes and then some!  All in a system that's so easy to get into, quick to play, but not simplistic.

Well, now courtesy of Direwolf Digital and Steam, you can take to the skies again online.  This is a direct modelling of the original game and contains a range of features that were introduced through various expansions.

So, overall here's what's included.  As with most computer games I'm familiar with, you start with a Tutorial, which, in this case, has three sections: Basic Rules, Damage and Altitude.  Each steps you through a number of simple scenarios, instructing you what actions to take. With those rapidly under your belt, it's time to move on to what will constitute normal play either solo or against an online opponent.  

I've already seen a number of comments online about the few opponents as yet available.  At first I assumed, with some surprise, that the reason was a lack of players buying the game.  However, it may be that they're encountering my problem, which is that whatever name or password I've tried in order to create an account for online play I get the identical message that this account already has been chosen!! 

However, until I make that significant breakthrough, I have plenty to occupy my time with what on the game's menu is headed Local Play which is subdivided into Solo and Challenges.  Both of these categories are purely for solo play and have an element of overlap.
Solo covers four scenarios headed: Dogfight, Bombing Run, Bullets in the Mud and Reconnaissance. While Challenges cover 
Earning Yours Wings: Ace Skills
Trench Buster: Strafing
Bombing Run: Bombing

Here you can see proof of my success at the Trench Buster Challenge and I didn't even need it on easy Level!

The variety offered encompasses the following elements:-
Play as either Entente or Central Powers
A.I. Difficulty: Easy/Normal/Hard
Rules Level: Basic/Standard/Advanced
Map Size Default/Bigger/Huge

Then there is the Hangar where you can select from a list of historical Ace Pilots with pre-set skills to match the real life pilot or you can create your personalised pilot choosing from a range of skills.  To be expected, the Hangar is also where you select the model of plane you wish to fly. and both plane and pilot are purchased with points earned in action.  Good news is that going through the Tutorial builds up a number of points to easily get you started.

Who Else?

So, lets get down to game play, which stripped to its absolute bare essentials involves two main actions.  The first action starts the game by simply choosing a type of plane and taking the associated deck of manoeuvre cards.  The latter item creates the crucial differences between types of plane - mainly by allowing/restricting the number and manner of varying plane moves in a deck.  For example, one type of plane might have more right turn manoeuvres than left turn ones or might include more sharp turns or  some planes can't make the famed Immelman turn.

The second action is the secret choice from your manoeuvre deck each turn of a sequence of three cards.  Each player will then play them out  alternately and, after each card play, check whether they have an enemy plane in range to fire at.

The fact that the program handles so much of the work is both a boon and a drawback.  It does mean that your whole attention is on flying your plane, trying to out guess your opponent whether a live online one or the solo A.I.  The greatest benefit is not having to constantly run through your deck of cards trying to find exactly what you want, as you plan each turn's sequence of three.  

Instead you have a display of all your cards with small dots indicating how many of each type of manoeuvre you are allowed per turn.  No problems about remembering sequences that might be illegal, as a given card immediately changes colour to show that it cannot be chosen as the next card!

Here you see a shot from the opening tutorial, with all possible manoeuvres available and  I hope you can see the small dots that indicate how many of each card you have in your deck.  Each card also has a small arrow to show whether a manoeuvre is to the left, right or straight ahead.  I know you might be thinking that is so obvious why bother, but many's the time in the heat of the moment of the original board game I've managed to somehow choose left rather than right or vice versa. [Duh!]

Equally useful is that the program automatically registers if an enemy plane is in firing range and opens fire on it.  No need for measuring rods.  A fast playing game becomes even faster and the hidden nature of the damage done to an enemy plane makes solo play a genuinely accurate depiction of two player action.  On the down side, I must admit that I miss that extra frisson of tension as you turn a damage card, especially as the damage starts to mount.

On the other hand, I do like visuals such as the small flickering flames that show you engine's on fire or the coloured firing arc that appears and the tracery of bullets that lance out towards your enemy, though it's not as much fun when they're inbound, homing in on your own plane!

Also on the plus side is that you can handle up to 3 planes with ease - a task which is heavy weather if you were playing the physical board game. It's no mean feat handling three separate decks of cards, potential damage cards for three different planes and all the associated laying of the manoeuvre cards on the table and placing each card in front of its respective plane and then transferring your planes into the correct position!

For me there is a single major downside in comparison with the board game - no beautiful scale models which are a sheer delight to handle and to place on whatever gorgeous terrain mat inevitably bound to buy.  

Still this digital version offers for less than £12 the perfect recreation of an all-time great.

Many thanks to Dire Wolf for supplying a review key code.

Outside, the leaves have turned and begun to fall in droves, Christmas nears and that familiar music is in the air. On my computer scree...

Strategic Command: World War I Strategic Command: World War I

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Outside, the leaves have turned and begun to fall in droves, Christmas nears and that familiar music is in the air. On my computer screen, I can only feel pity towards the counters representing hundreds of thousands of soldiers as I begin turn one of the campaign. They think they'll be home for the holidays, but I know there is only a long and difficult war ahead.

Strategic Command: World War I from Fury Software is the studio's second stab at the Great War. I enjoyed the original game  quite a bit a few years back, and the game has only been refined further since then. The most fundamental change that fans of the older game will notice right away is that the square grid is gone, replaced with more traditional hexes. Also, the game is much nicer to look at without a doubt. Beyond the visuals, the gameplay will be very familiar to fans of the series, to the point that you can jump in and play without bothering to check the manual.

For those approaching the series for the first time, here's a look at how the game handles. Strategic Command WW1 (SCWW1) is a grand strategy turn based game where you take on the role of leading either the Entente or the Central Powers in WWI. Unit density is kept to a minimum by using a corps as the standard unit size for infantry. Aircraft, artillery, and HQ units are around as well, but never in great numbers. On the sea things flip the other way, with individual ships each having their own, very valuable counter. The combat is, at a glance, similar to Panzer General and the like, with unit health being represented by a scale from 1-10, and the average combat knocking off 1-3 points from that total. Things aren't quite that simple though, as morale, supply, terrain, entrenchment, and more factors come into play to determine the odds. Still, the game keeps things simple, and it is a great place for less experienced wargamers to dip their toes into the deep end of the pool. 

As someone who likes to fancy myself a hardcore wargamer, but in reality never finds the time for the real monsters, the Strategic Command series is a perfect fit. SCWWI is no exception to that rule. The reason I enjoy the games so much is because they are just complicated enough to make you think hard about decisions, while keeping each aspect of the game simple enough that you can easily pick up and play a few turns a day without any need to consult the manual or go hunting for answers on the forums. I say that in terms of the mechanics of playing the game. When it comes to the actual strategy, well, I can always use a little more help. SCWWI actually delivers on that need right out of the box. 

Besides a manual describing how to control the game, there is also a lengthy strategy guide included for the full campaign. It goes over all of the quirks of the gameplay which are not readily apparent to the new player. Things like decision events, partisans, naval blockades, and how certain specific actions you might take will influence the game. Besides that, the guide includes broad strategies for each side, and specific tips for each individual nation. Skimming through this document is a good idea before you embark on the full campaign, since SCWWI, like the other SC games, contains a lot of scripted events that will fire on specific turns or under certain conditions. All of these events are listed in the strategy guide, with information about when they will fire and what the possible outcomes of each decisions will be. 

These events can be very powerful and important, sometimes giving you special new units, or allowing you to take a unique action that is otherwise unavailable. You can opt to take the historical path in each of these decisions, but you can also explore the "what-if" of an alternate choice. Many of these events can also have randomized outcomes, so history may take a different path even if you make the historical choice. For example, the Zimmerman telegraph just might work this time around, drawing Mexico into the war. Unlikely, but you never know! Some people might feel that this approach can railroad the game a bit, but I appreciate how it is used to handle things that happened historically, but would be difficult to replicate organically through game mechanics. 

Besides all of the combat occurring on the map, the player will also need to concern themselves with managing diplomacy, production, and research. All of these areas share one pool of resources (MPPs), and that same resource is also needed to repair damage to existing units, and to use railroads to move units great distances. This means you'll need to be very judicious in how you spend those precious points. Choosing to build a very expensive unit like a battleship, which will take many turns to complete, is not just a simple choice, but something you are actively building your entire campaign strategy around. Other long term decisions like influencing other nations to join your side, or focusing on aerial warfare over submarine warfare, are likewise not choices to be made lightly. No matter what you choose to do, your opponent will put up a stiff fight, and only by matching your choices with an effective strategy will you prevail. 

While the AI is prone to make the occasional odd move, and leaves itself open to attack from time to time, it will mostly put up a good fight. If you find the default settings too easy, it's possible to gradually turn up the difficulty, putting yourself at a disadvantage, though this won't necessarily make the AI play any smarter.  To get the ultimate challenge, you'll need to go online and find a human opponent. Although I didn't use the online function while preparing this review, it uses the same PBEM++ system as most Matrix/Slitherine turn based games. Using this system you can play asynchronously, completing a turn and coming back later when your opponent has played their turn. It might take quite a while to play a full campaign against another player, but I imagine it would be a thrilling experience. If you want to try a shorter match, there is a scenario included which begins the campaign in 1917, with the end nearing, but much tough fighting still to be done.

Overall, I have no real complaints about the game, though there are a few areas where improvements could be made. Naval combat continues to be the weak point of the series, as it is difficult to portray those battles on the same map and scale as the land combat. Some abstractions are forced upon the game due to the question of scale, such as ships entering specific zones in order to be teleported across particular areas.  Naval blockades involve parking units on specific hexes, which works but always feels a bit odd. The other main complaint I have is the lack of alternate scenarios. Only three scenarios total are included in the game, the full 1914 start, an alternate version where Italy switches sides, and the 1917 start. I don't recall if the original base game had many extra scenarios, but I really enjoyed all of the smaller scenarios included in the Breakthrough expansion. I was hoping to see some of those reappear here, but no luck. Perhaps they will come along in a DLC at some point.

Strategic Command: World War I is a solid entry into the series, and I can very comfortably recommend it to anyone who has enjoy the series before, and anyone looking for a good WWI strategy experience. I think Strategic Command strikes a near perfect balance between depth and fun.  Few other games can give you so many details and potential strategies to explore, while remaining mechanically simple enough that anyone could sit down and learn all of the mechanics in under ten minutes. 

- Joe Beard

Strategic Command: World War I is available directly from Matrix Games and on Steam.

The title of this book gives the impression that it covers the escape attempts of captured military personnel during WWI. A more acc...

Voices in Flight Escaping Soldiers and Airmen of World War I by Martin W. Bowman Voices in Flight Escaping Soldiers and Airmen of World War I by Martin W. Bowman

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


The title of this book gives the impression that it covers the escape attempts of captured military personnel during WWI. A more accurate title would be "Airborne shenanigans during WWI", admittedly this is not as eye-catching a title; but what 'escaping' there is, is tucked up nicely in the last few chapters of the book. What you have to read to get to that point is however a fascinating insight into the personal exploits, predominantly of airmen - not soldiers, during the conflict. I enjoyed the entire book and was constantly struck by just how far we've come in 100 years of aviation [military] and in comparison what was considered acceptable then to today. For example during the first 5 days of the Battle of Arras, the author tells us that 75 aircraft were lost and 105 aircrew - a figure unthinkable today and sobering to consider.

When I opened this book my eyes felt assaulted by the walls of text on each page. This may sound like a silly criticism but the typesetting felt very cramped on the page. I'm sure the author is not to blame for this but it did look like someone had taken an un-formatted document file and bound it into a book. This did surprise me as no other book I have from Pen & Sword Publishing (P&S hereafter) has this style of typesetting. The publishing quality of my other P&S books is very high, maybe they had a page limit to fit this work into ...?

Each chapter opens with a short excerpt from a personal journal or what I assume to be official dispatches from the front or other such source. Then the author goes on to give the context and throughout each chapter reveals more of the personal account or event. I found this style of having two voices in a chapter engaging. The chapters finish with a note section, rather than at the end of the book which allows for much quicker lookup of the referenced material.

I am professionally aware of military aviation and have spent countless hours surrounded by pictures of old planes from the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. There were more than a few occasions throughout this book which jogged old memories of reading medal citations contained within squadron display cabinets. I was very grateful to the author in fleshing out each account and providing the sources and more of the back story as much as he did. There were still many stories of which I knew nothing and I was surprised at the seemingly, ubiquitous role the formative RAF had in WWI.

The focus of each chapter is a different individual and in its entirety this book comprises a who's who of aviation legends; Immelmann, Handley Page, Richtofen to name a few. One name that stood out to me for all the wrong reasons and which takes the best British military officer's name I've ever heard, was Sqn Cdr Joseph Ruscombe Wadham Smyth-Pigott. It feels slightly cheeky to say that the character of Blackadder's Lord Flashheart came to mind several times through reading this book...

One of the most poignant chapters involves the story of Reggie Marix, who after capturing a German cavalry captain and confiscating his sword, offered the POW his pistol in order to end the suffering of his stricken horse; an honour that Reggie thought the German should still have. The chapter goes on to relate how the confiscated sword found its way back to the German many years later and is quite touching. This example, and several others throughout the book, hark back to the days of chivalry and honour which arguably has disappeared from modern battlefields.

I think this book would be enjoyed by a relatively wide audience, although convincing the wider audience of that would be a challenge. If you're not interested in military history then nothing on the cover suggests that a person that only reads biographies would also enjoy it. The book's focus is on individuals and their personal stories in which they are, to me at least, doing amazing things. It's not a historic retelling of the tactics or strategies of WWI but focuses right down at the lowest, human level. In our time, these gentlemen would be celebrities in their own right and lauded for their courage, tenacity and skill. The reader is free to draw their own conclusions to how the majority of today's 'stars' stack up in comparison.

If you would like to pick up a copy of this title, P&S currently (Aug 2017) have a sale on it. However I will just link to their store page and the RRP of £25.00. I highly recommend this book.

The Siege of Tsingtau by Charles Stephenson First things first, the campaigns of WWI are not very familiar to me. This boo...

The Siege of Tsingtau: The German-Japanese War 1914 by Charles Stephenson The Siege of Tsingtau: The German-Japanese War 1914 by Charles Stephenson

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



Charles Stephenson

First things first, the campaigns of WWI are not very familiar to me. This book covers, what I originally thought, a very obscure battle of the Japanese attack on German Tsingtau in the Pacific (current day Qingdao). Although the name 'World War One' implies a global conflict my naive understanding is limited to the Somme, Verdun, Gallipoli et al. It should be no surprise that the colonial subjects across the Pacific were drawn into the war just as their primary state decreed.

The book starts with several chapters that detail the geo-political environment of all the main belligerents. In these formative chapters there is a large reliance on direct quotes from source material. This leads to some dense sentence construction, of which the author excels throughout the rest of the book, even when source material is not being referenced. 

In the introduction to the book, the author himself states that if you want to get to the actual fighting, i.e. to skip the politics, then skip the first couple of chapters. I might be doing the book an injustice, there are a few skirmishes in the previous chapters, but the actual battle, from my understanding started in Chapter 7, the penultimate chapter of the book.

Again in the introduction, the author states that the book is not aimed at the academic audience. I think he is doing himself a disservice as the book is, to my mind, thoroughly researched and includes 66 pages of notes and bibliography to the 8 chapters, that comprise nearly 40% of the book. Any student of the theatre, at any level, would do well to pick up this book and read this narrative history of the battle.

All that being said, I was continually surprised by this account of an 'obscure' battle. I wasn't aware of the extent of German colonisation in the Pacific, nor the different military's nascent air power capabilities. However what initially piqued my interest with this book was the fact that two infamous WWII allies were, adversaries just 25 years earlier. I personally would have liked to see more analysis of how that came to be, but that is unfair to the author and his work, as that would warrant an entirely different book outside this scope.

The book includes the standard middle glossy insert of photo pages. The scale and size of the equipment shown in these photos somehow seemed incongruous to the text I was reading. This is no criticism of the text rather a new-found admiration and awe of the bravery of soldiers from both sides, with the most rudimentary of equipment, going against massive siege artillery.

I particularly enjoyed the account of SMS Emden's (a German light crusier) exploits in the Indian Ocean against the Entente Powers' shipping. A nugget I will take away from that account is the importance of logistics and command and control (C2) support; often decried as boring and glossed over in many historical war-games, yet it is essential. The German East Asian (naval) Squadron was bereft of a re-supply base and had to split into both the Indian Ocean and round Cape Horn into the Southern Atlantic to find fuel and repairs.

As a precursor to the battle the British and Japanese forces destroyed the radio masts of the German occupiers. This, I imagine, is still employed today as a viable military tactic i.e. denying the enemy C2 channels, but in 1914 the German colony was left with no communication ability to the outside world. From a modern perspective that seems scary and almost impossible to achieve today.

The other aspect, which I found noteworthy, was the effect and experience of aeroplanes in this battle. The author, at some length, explains a few of the aviation firsts that occurred during and in the events preceding this battle. I was very grateful for the detail he included and I would have liked another chapter or so dedicated to the air environment. 

The author loosely follows the exploits of a couple of pilots from both sides as they built, and fixed their aircraft to fly reconnaissance or strike missions. Yes you read that right - 'strike' missions. I was particularly intrigued with a pilot who was given his license, his 'wings' if you will, after 2 days training and how his propeller would disintegrate during flight as the right type of glue wasn't available! I can't imagine flying in a self-destructing aircraft.

Overall this book opened my eyes to the global scale and scope of WWI and I am grateful to have read it. My personal experience and interests include military aviation and the pacific theatre from WWII to today and so this book was interesting to me. I couldn't recommend it to the casual reader unless they have, at the very least, a peripheral interest in the topic. However, if you are in the latter camp then pick it up and you may be as surprised as I was.

The Siege of Tsintau is available from Pen & Sword Books for £20.

Another fine line up from Thomas Gunn               It's been awhile since we reviewed some of Thomas Gunns finest,...

New Thomas Gunn Soldiers on Parade! Including at least one very famous face! New Thomas Gunn Soldiers on Parade! Including at least one very famous face!

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Another fine line up from Thomas Gunn


 It's been awhile since we reviewed some of Thomas Gunns finest, the reason being that they've been doing so well and have been so busy that they just haven't had time to send me anything to review, until now. If you check their website this can hardly seem like a surprise. All the soldiers they release are excellent but over the last few months they have been excelling themselves! The recent WWI pilots are absolutely amazing, you must go check them out and grab yourself one or two...oh what the heck buy them all!!
 First in line is GB002 Scots Guard Marching. This is the second WWII Scots Guard on parade release, the previous miniature GB001 was a Scots Guard standing sentry. Both miniatures are in battle dress wearing No1 dress peaked cap. The Scots Guards is one of Great Britain's famous historical regiments dating back to 1642 formed under the reign of Charles 1st to serve in Ireland and were originally known as Marquis of Argyll's Loyal Regiment. They served with honours in the Great War and during WWII were based in North Africa, Italy and France.
 This soldier is marching on parade and as usual for Thomas Gunn is limited to 100, though if demand is there they will produce more:). The sculpt is faultless and the paint work absolutely perfect. Take a close look at the base. You can even see tufts of grass poking up:) The sort of detail I've come to expect from Thomas Gunn. I've yet to see a miniature that doesn't ooze quality. I'm so happy they have been so busy as they deserve it when time and time again they release such fantastic soldiers as this Scots Guard who is marching in front of me.

 As you can see in the picture above it looks amazing when you have a few of them all marching in line. Thomas Gunn have stated more Scots Guards on parade will be released during 2017 and I for one can't wait.

 Limited to 100 he retails at £32. Another Thomas Gunn bargain.

Editors note: Check out the superb book which follows both battalions of the Scots Guards throughout WWI. CLICK HERE

 Next we go back in time to our WWI release that's up for review. Last review we met some historical figures from WWI. We met Ben Butler, a footballer who served and died in the War, plus a famous war artist Muirhead Bone. This time we meet someone whose name I'm sure is known by all our readers. Probably (along side Wilfred Owen) the most famous Poet to come out of WWI, Siegfried Sassoon.
 What can I say about Sassoon that you don't already know? In the UK anyway there probably isn't a single person leaving school who hasn't studied Sassoon, not in History lessons but in English Literature were his war poems are, and most likely always will be, part of the curriculum. Sassoon and Wilfred Owen I'd say are the most well known poets here in Blighty. Sassoon at first actually enjoyed the War and was a first rate Officer, loved by his men. He won the Military Cross and was also recommended for the Victoria Cross. However the futility of it all and the horror of the trenches became apparent and he threw his Military Cross into the sea. He went on to write "A Soldiers Declaration" which was read out in parliament. This anti war rhetoric didn't go down well with the powers that be and he refused to go back to the trenches, so he was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Scotland, the Craiglockhart War Hospital run by Dr Rivers,  as a shell shock case, this they said was the reason for his behaviour. Whist there he met Wilfred Owen. Another close friend of his was the author of the WWI memoir 'Goodbye to all That' Robert Graves. It was Graves who managed to stop Sassoon going to military prison and instead being sent to the hospital. It was also Graves, along with his own conscious regarding leaving his men out in France, which made him stand down and go back to France. Not long after he returned he was shot in the head by accident by a British soldier and sent home again. After the war he wrote the excellent 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer',  a fictional account of his War experience. He served with Robert Graves in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He is not only mentioned in Robert Graves book but also in the superb, must read, 'The War the Infantry Knew' by J Dunn, Capt Dunn was the medical officer for the 2nd Royal Welch Fusilier Battalion. Two other books written by serving soldiers in the Royal Welch are the superb 'Old Soldiers Never Die' by F Richardson (unusually for a Great War memoir Frank was a private) and 'Nothing of Importance' by B Adams. In recent years Pat Barker wrote the excellent Regeneration trilogy which focused on Dr Rivers and Sassoon and Owen are in the book as is their meeting in hospital, though obviously this is a fictional account. A film Regeneration was also made which I recommend.
 GW072A The Poet.  The sculpt of Sassoon has him sitting on a wooden crate with pen and notepad in hand. I'll leave it up to you to decide on what he is writing, could it be the "A Soldiers Declaration" or is he penning another of his timeless classic poems, or maybe something more war like, like a trench raid plan (as he enjoyed those). The sculpt is first class. His posture is natural and easy on the eye. As standard for Thomas Gunn I can't fault the paintwork.

 He is limited to 100 and retails at £32. Now who wouldn't want a Sassoon miniature? I'm pretty certain these will sell fast!


 Now we jump forward again to WWII. However we are sticking with an historical figure. This time we have a famous German Ace Major Bruno Meyer.
 LUFT014 Major Bruno Meyer.
 Bruno Meyer was one of WWII top rated pilots. With over 500 combat missions and around 50 tanks destroyed you can see why. To fly so many missions as a ground pounder is something to be marvelled at, coupled with is superb kill tally he can stand proud with the likes of Rudel and 'Bubi' Hartmann. Flying both the FW190 and the HS129 he would have been a total menace to any Russian tank commander who was aware he was flying in their vicinity. He was born in Haiti and joined the party in 1933. On 21st August 1942 he was awarded the Knights Cross. His last command was with 1/SG 104 flying both FW190 F & G and JU 87 D & G.
 Here he is kneeling down taking a photograph, possibly of his plane or maybe his squadron members. His posture is very well sculptured and looks natural. The paintwork is faultless. Again note the blades of grass poking up around his boots! He also has a cup or most likely  ersatz coffee as well as a jerry can (no doubt has a similar taste to his coffee!). I love this miniature. The idea of him taking a photograph was pure genius, as it works perfectly. Thomas Gunn have announced they will be releasing two planes that would go with Bruno, a 75mm long cannon HS129 and the shorter 37mm cannon version.
 He is limited to 100 and retails at £32. Like Sassoon I'd grab him whilst he is still around.
 RS042B 8cm Mortar with Crew (Early War). The last miniature for review this time is a two figure set, and one you may well recognise. Click here and then scroll down and you'll come across this same sculpt. However that time they were wearing Australian Jungle fatigues, as they were fighting the Japanese, in the jungles of the Pacific. This time however, they are still Australian soldiers, but are fighting in the deserts of Africa, against Rommel's infamous Afrika Korps! As you can see they create an excellent little diorama all on their own. Their postures are dynamic and really capture the intensity of the moment. Just like the jungle set the paintwork is absolutely perfect. Typical Thomas Gunn quality.
 Again limited to just 100 this two figure set retails at £75. A bargain.
 Now I leave you with a couple of pics of Thomas Gunns recent WW1 pilots. WOW! they look fantastic.
 Until the next time...when I'll showcase some more of Thomas Gunns jaw dropping miniatures...bye!

'Till The Trumpet Sounds Again Vol 1 & Vol 2 by R Nicol book review Reading so many military history books covering WWI and ...

'Till The Trumpet Sounds Again Vol 1 & Vol 2 book Review 'Till The Trumpet Sounds Again Vol 1 & Vol 2 book Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


'Till The Trumpet Sounds Again Vol 1 & Vol 2 by R Nicol book review

Reading so many military history books covering WWI and WWII I started to notice one company in particular never let me down. Every book I read that came out under their name I enjoyed from start to finish. Infact many I'd have happily placed in my top ten book list and those that didn't wouldn't be far off. This company is Helion. Though they fall under Casemate (who also publish great reads) if I see a book that looks interesting and then I note it's published by Helion it becomes a definite buy. So if a book has caught your eye, but maybe you're in two minds check to see who publishes it. If it's Helion then I say buy it! So when I noticed this book was published by Helion I knew I had to read it! I had to review both volumes for the blog!

Unlike my colleague and AWNTs other book review Bob, I love books that that take it down to the soldier in the frontline level. Were Bob likes his books about Strategy and the big picture, I prefer books that take me down to a trench and the individual soldier, describing what he witnessed and felt, introducing me to his comrades. In a strange way I feel reading these books (fair to say mainly memoirs) help keep these soldiers alive, even though sadly many you get to know will die during the course of the book. So 'Till The Trumpet Sounds Again Vol 1 & 2 looked like it would be a winner, WWI (my obsession), Helion and promising to take me down to the trenches with the Scots Guards sounds perfect, surely it must be a winner....

Funny enough though I've read alot of WWI books I haven't read any that are based around a particular regiment rather than an individual soldier. Actually I tell a lie, the excellent series by Jack Sheldon "The German Army on\at...." and the superb "The Otherside of The Wire" by Ralph Whitehead (more on that later) are along similar lines but covering a German Army\Corps, were this two volume set covers a renowned British regiment. "The Otherside of the Wire" By Ralph Whitehead (Helion) is actually my benchmark when it comes to in-depth research by an author. This series easy has a place in my top ten books of all time. Ralph's research into the soldiers mentioned in the two volumes currently released is amazing, the best I've read so far and I thought no one could do it any better. 'Till The Trumpet Sounds Again I hoped would be just like "The Otherside of the Wire" but this time looking at a British unit. So everything is in the books favour, will it come close to "The Otherside of the Wire"..

Well, as soon as I started reading I knew this was going to be something special. The book starts with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, about to leave the UK and then follows them as the cross the channel and head towards their first engagement and the battle of Mons, it then stays with them through the long retreat and then finally the counter attack and the battle of The Marne. It soon becomes apparent how much research the author has done. More or less every soldier mentioned in it's pages, esp those that die or are wounded in any actions mentioned (if wounded it says if he gets sent back to the frontline or not) have their background described, were they lived, when they signed up, their previous job, who they are married to, who their parents were, if he had any children, if he had been in any trouble whilst in the ranks, even down to any tattoos he has and where and what they are of! I love this sort of detail! The author has used not only the regiments diary but also letters sent to loved ones and any interviews taken after the War. At one point I was reading extracts from a letter written by a Officer, during which he has to break off from writing due to a barrage. He then continues to finish the letter. A couple of paragraphs later this same Officer is killed and you find out the letter was taken out of his pocket and sent to his loved one with any other personal articles he had had with him when killed. He had just been told his wife was expecting another child. It's this sort of detail that brings it all home. For me makes it all real and keeps these men in living memory. The second chapter then goes to the 2nd Battalion who crossed later than the 1st. It follows them through the first battle of Ypres, a terrible baptism of fire. The third chapter then goes back to the 1st battalion and describes their experience of "The First Battle of Ypres". The two volumes continue in this way going back and forth between the two battalions, yet it never gets confusing and is very easy to follow. Volume 1 goes from 1914 to July 1916 and the start of the battle of the Somme.

Volume 2 carries on were Volume 1 finished right through to 1919. A slightly smaller book than Vol 1 it doesn't let you down. I'm sure after finishing volume 1 you'll want to get Volume 2 as soon as possible. R Nicol hasn't let the men of the Scots Guards down and this book is a fantastic testament to their deeds through "The Great War". If any member of your family actually fought with the Scots Guards during WWI this is more than just a must HAVE to buy it!

Now did R Nicol manage to uphold my feelings about Helion and did he infact come close to "The Otherside of the Wire", what I consider to be pretty much the perfect military history book? Well yes and no. Yes I still see the name "Helion" as a mark of a good read but coming close to "The Otherside of the Wire"? A tough ask and I have to say he didn't just come close, he matched, if not over took Ralph's work in my top ten list! I mean achievement. I have no hesitation in recommending this superb series. It had everything I want in my history books in spades, with a cherry on top! It definitely goes in my top ten if not top five books of all time. Again Helion didn't disappoint. Helion must be the jewel in Casemates crown! It will be a long time, if ever, before I forget the men of the Scots Guards and their experience of WWI which is all thanks to R Nicols superb research and writing skills. If you're like me and love books that take you down to the frontline and the experiences of the soldiers and officers in the line then this two volume set is a must buy. Even if WWI isn't really the conflict you're interested in I still say buy it as I'm sure once finished it wont be the last book you read on WW1. Only if you prefer the more dry books which look at the bigger strategy etc (yawn) like my colleague Bob should you look elsewhere. If you check the book reviews on the website by Bob you'll most likely find the type of book that appeals to you reviewed there. One thing I will say is that Helion also publish the type of book that appeals to those like Bob as he too has been impressed with their offerings!

So "'Till The Trumpets Sound Again" Vol 1 and Vol 2 by R Nicol impressed me no end. Very few things will I whole heartedly recommend for people to spend their hard earned money on. I certainly don't want to do a review that entices someone to buy it on my word and then not  be happy. However every now and again something comes along where I have no doubts what so ever in recommending to people and this is one of those times. If you enjoy the same sorts of books that I do then it's a no it! It's everything I want and more when it come to a military history book. R Nicol should be very proud! It's books like this that in recent times has made me go for the hardback edition rather than the soft back. I like to keep my books in good order. I once let someone borrow a book of mine and when it came back to me it looked like it had actually gone through the War..never again! 

 With in the pages of this two volume set are the reasons why I became obsessed with WWI, devouring book after book on the War. Those like me will under stand what I mean by this. I hope after reading these two books that maybe one or two other people will understand what I mean and also become obsessed with WWI. That might even be you!

Until the next time...happy reading!

Liaison 1914 by Edward Spears Review    Those who know me or are regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with WWI. It go...

Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review Liaison 1914 by E Spears Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Liaison 1914 by Edward Spears Review


 Those who know me or are regular readers will be well aware of my obsession with WWI. It goes without saying that I'm going to have a fairly extensive WWI book collection, though I've said it just in case:). Only a handful of those books I'd class as poor or were difficult to get through, on the other hand a good number of them I thoroughly enjoyed and I'd really struggle to make a list of my top ten without feeling I'd left out many books well worthy of a place in the list. Then we have those that wouldn't just be in my top ten WWI books but be in my non-fiction military history top ten list and, finally, a handful would be vying for a place in my all time favourite books ever, no matter the subject matter or genre. Carry on reading to see where I'd place Liaison 1914.


 The book is a fairly hefty tome at 469 pages and a further 119 pages of Appendices and Index. Altogether 589 pages to delve into (see, I can count and add up). The book is a narrative of the authors time in Belgium and France as liaison officer between the British and the French. At  the time Edward Spears was a young, highly literate lieutenant with the Royal Irish Hussars, but due to his fluency in French he was made liaison officer between Field Marshal Sir John French the British Expeditionary Force commander (BEF) and the French High Command. As you can imagine, he was in a fantastic position to understand what was going on at the time, most likely better than anyone else on the Entente side at that time. This means this book, his narrative of the retreat from ⚔ Mons, a retreat that could have wiped out the BEF before they even started, would\should make an engrossing read, a real page turner...and it does, with bells on! 


 All the major Entente players in France and Belgium make an appearance at some point to a greater or lesser degree. He manages to bring these men, with such immense responsibility on their shoulders, to life just as well as any great author. You can really get a grasp of their personalities, including both good points and their flaws. He also manages to convey to the reader the urgency and perilous nature of the circumstances he and the Entente as whole found themselves in at the time, not helped by the inherent  mistrust (remember until now France had always been the British natural enemy and it had been Prussians i.e Germans who had saved the day for us against the French 99 years previously at Waterloo) which at times broke out into anger between Sir John French and commander of the French armies, Joseph Joffre.  This obviously didn't help the situation and it was more luck, excellent low level leadership and bravery of the men at the frontline that managed to save the day and put the Entente into a position where they could strike back, which they did do with the famous battle of ⚔ The Marne and then the so called Race to the Sea, until both sides were worn out and dug in. Digging-in created the famous trench system that ran from the northern coast right down to Switzerland, though this is beyond the scope of the book which ends on September 14th.

 For me, this book in particular really brought to life those historic days and helped me understand not only what was going on during that near disastrous period of the War but also how it must have felt on the ground for those involved. When I read military history books, memoirs in particular, I always have a feeling I'm listening to ghosts from the past, many cut down during or not long after the events told, but in a small way still alive on the pages of the book, so they aren't forgotten.

 Edward Spears was one of the first British officers in France due to the nature of his role and, over the course of the War, he continued to serve as liaison officer. He had been wounded four times by the time the War ended and had earned a chest full of medals and awards, he managed to survive the War. I truly wish he'd written several volumes to cover his entire War experience, but sadly that's not going to happen. Before his death at the good age of 87 in January 1974 he had been interviewed for the BBC's famous and "must watch" 1964 documentary The Great War and so appeared several times over the course of that excellent documentary. He also appeared in one episode of the WWII documentary, A World at War, talking about his WWII experience. If you search the web you can find some of his Great War interview clips.

So at the start of this review I talked about the WWI books I've read and where this one would go with regards to my top ten list. Well I can't say what number it would be but I will say it's a definite for my all time top ten books of any genre! As for just WWI books, it easily deserves a place in my top five! Anyone with the slightest bit of interest in WWI must at some point read Liaison 1914. I'd even recommend it as a great read to those who haven't shown any interest in the War, though I reckon by the end of it this would be the first book of many they'll end up reading about the War:) Go out and treat yourself to a copy, or if you know of someone who can't decide what to get you for Xmas then look no further!

Thanks for your time. Until the next time have fun, oh nearly forgot, have a Happy Xmas and New Year!

A quick mention of a good companion read A Frenchman in Khaki by P Maze

Warbirds: Canvas Falcons AAR No Parachute! By Albert Campisto Mas

Warbirds AAR! Warbirds AAR!

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Warbirds: Canvas Falcons AAR

No Parachute!

By Albert Campisto Mas

Wings Over Flanders Fields Ultimate Edition Review  WOFF background Wings Over Flanders Field started off as a WWI modificat...

Wings Over Flanders Fields UE Review Wings Over Flanders Fields UE Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!


Wings Over Flanders Fields Ultimate Edition Review 

WOFF background

Wings Over Flanders Field started off as a WWI modification called Over Flanders Field for Microsoft CFS3. Over the years, work hasn't stopped and at several stages a new, improved version was sold, which, until recently, took us to WOFF Version 3. Version 3 also had some expansions - DLC yet again adding new planes and features to an already superb sim. Now, what is to be considered  the ultimate version of WOFF has been released. WOFF 3 and its expansions have been brought all into one package, as well as the addition of  a host of new features and improvements. Wings Over Flanders Field Ultimate Edition is the climax of over ten years of development, and boy does it shine because of it. Come, take to the skies above the Western Front during the Great War. WOFF UE, not just the ultimate version of WOFF, but the ultimate single player flight sim, period!


Please, stick with me

Those who know me, or if you've been a regular reader of the blog (I thank you) will know I'm a WWI obsessive. Though, for reasons I can't put my finger on, the Eastern Front in WWI doesn't appeal, yet in regards to WWII it's my main area of interest. However, as WOFF UE is only concerned with the Western Front then it's of no consequence. The War has really grabbed me to the point where I devour book after book, mainly memoirs, of those who experienced it from all sides, both on land as well as in the air. WW2 seems more real, tangible, a time that is more easy to relate too. A War that was horrific and actually killed more than WWI yet for some reason WWI is the go to war when you think about the horrors, misery and futility of warfare. Yet,  WWI only ended two decades before WWII started and it seems like a different world. Maybe it's the staccato black and white footage which makes it seem more unreal. Then add the horror of new and more deadly ways of killing, coupled with old tactics, then years of living a primitive, underground existence with death a constant companion. Even the wounds you were liable to get caused more brutal, horrific damage to your flesh and bone. A reason for this being the shells in WWI  broke up into large, jagged pieces of shrapnel which could cause horrific injuries, whereas in WWII, they fragmented into much smaller pieces, just as lethal, but they wouldn't cause the awful visual damage the larger shrapnel did. Even the ground itself became deadly, with even minor wounds killing the poor chap, with gas gangrene, another horrific way to die, and a cruel one.  You think you have what the British called a "Blighty", a minor wound that would get you home for awhile, yet ten or so days later you're dying a horrific, painful death, as gas gangrene takes its course.

Honestly, from here on in it's all relevant

 Then we have the aircraft flown during the War. The ones from WWII are not that dissimilar to prop powered planes of today. With WWI, however, the technical marvel of flying, and the flimsy, lethal looking wood, canvas and wire contraptions used to take man into the skies were all very new. So, at the start of WWI the aeroplanes looked frighteningly primitive, just like all the other aspects of the War, primitive. Yet again, this all adds to the War's otherworldliness.

 Over the War's four plus years, aircraft technology moved forward rapidly, unlike the actual fighting on the ground. Also, at different periods during the War, one side or the other would have the upper hand, either through technological advance like during the so-called Fokker scourge, when in 1915 the Central Powers invented a mechanism that synchronised the firing of the MG and the propeller. The pilots flying the Fokker aircraft equipped with this new bit of kit soon reaped a deadly harvest and the first Aces of the War were born. Or it was just a case of one side managing to bring faster and more manoeuvrable aircraft out before the other.  So, until the other side caught up or even overtook them in this tech race, the side not in the  ascendency would find their machines getting knocked out the sky at an alarming rate, obviously adding to the ever growing casualty lists. Over the Western front the British decided to always be on the offensive in the air, crossing over into enemy lines to take on the enemy. Since the War, many have questioned this, as it meant British casualties were a lot higher than the Germans'. The RFC policy of no parachutes (as it was deemed the pilot may jump when he could have got the plane home) also meant the RFC casualty rate was higher than need be. It condemned many pilots to a horrific death, being burnt alive as their plane fell out the sky, adding another barbaric and primitive aspect to the War. The Germans had taken on a defensive policy, waiting to swoop on the enemy as they crossed over into their air space. Flying in their brightly coloured planes, the Germans flew in large numbers called Jastas. If you were an Entente pilot during '17 up until April '18 and you spotted a bright red plane leading the enemy Jasta [signalling the presence of the Red Baron, Manfred Von Richthofen], fear would overwhelm you, praying you wont become the next victim of who would be the Wars overall leading ace. The Germans did carry out bombing campaigns through out the War, using aircraft like the huge Gotha bombers or Zeppelins, even regularly bombing the UK.

 By the War's end both sides had some very good, reliable, fast and deadly planes. The Germans with the Fokker DVIIF and the Allies the SE5a or Airco DH5. For a good part of the War though, you were more likely to die in training, from either an error you made or from mechanical failure or a combination of both, than you were in actual combat.

I expect your wondering why you've just read the above, when this is supposed to be a review for WOFF UE? 

Well it's because pretty much everything I mentioned above you'll experience in WOFF UE. From the first planes of the War scrapping it out in the Skies of '15 until the end of the War; it's all here. Choose to enlist for either the British (87 squadrons), German (205 squadrons), French (139 squadrons) or American (23 squadrons). Fly in a Recon or Bomber squadron, each flight praying you aren't about to be prey whilst doggedly sticking to your task. Or join a fighter squadron, to take the enemy on in a duel in the sky. Over 80, yes that's right 80 aircraft you can take to the skies in.

The AI is also another excellent feat the OBD team have managed to pull off. With each iteration it has got better and better, until we have what is easily the best flight sim AI out there. No fight to the death AI here, each pilot has his own skill level, plus moral and fatigue are monitored, which all effects how he flies and can result in him breaking for home when risk outweighs reward. The AI also sticks within the limits of his plane's flight model, and, talking about the flight models, each plane has been researched and tested and I haven't seen any complaints about any of WOFF UE's many flight models in the forums. This has to be a very good sign. WOFF UE, in my opinion, is by far the greatest single-player, combat flight sim that has been released on the PC, finally taking over that top spot for WWI flight sims from The Red Baron, and personally, it takes the top spot for any combat flight sim covering any era. 

Nothing can come close to the dramatic scenes this sim produces, as you fly across the tortured landscape of No Man's Land. It manages to convey the immensity of the sky, and creates clouds like no other sim. I can't find the words to explain it, but I honestly haven't played a flight sim that manages to make you and your plane feel so small and fragile, so insignificant, as you fly among such huge, dark, foreboding clouds. The atmosphere the sim creates is second to none. I've ready many pilot memoirs and when they wax lyrical about flying and the sorts of vista they see up in the heavens when playing WOFF UE you can understand what they mean.  Each season has its own high definition terrain set. No Man's Land will move in-line with how it did historically. Now, with the free skin pack, all Squadrons and Jastas have historically accurate paint jobs, as well as the planes of every Ace on all sides having their own, unique, historically accurate paint work. We are talking thousands of skins here.

This is another visual treat WOFF UE has to offer.  It also enhances the sort of realism OBD is trying to achieve, with great success in my opinion. Another massive improvement that WOFF has recently acquired is that the high definition planes' skins will now show bullet hole damage etc. which they didn't do. Previously, you had a choice between hi def skins or bullet holes, now you can have both.

As I'm talking about damage, the damage model and the visual effects have yet again been improved for the many aircraft, creating more varied looking and realistic plane damage. For the first time now pilots and observers will slump in their seats if killed. I always breathe a sigh of relief, if I shoot a plane down in flames and notice the pilot is already dead.  That's the kind of effect the game has on you, drawing you in to the point of worrying about an AI pilot's death! Previously, before the "slump", you never knew if the pilot was dead or not as he and his plane fell to earth like some sort of grisly comet.

Weather is also modelled.  So, as you take off, you could be flying through a snow storm, yet once above the cloud layer, bingo you're bathed in sunshine,  with blue sky all around. So as you can tell by now visually it's one hell of a treat. Day and night is modelled is also modelled. Fly as a pilot in a Gotha desperately trying to stay out of the search lights, as they sweep the night sky above London. Or, as the sun has just gone down towards the end of your patrol, you come into land at your airfield in France being guided by the flames lit along either side of the run way.

I can imagine some being worried about it using the old CFS 3 engine. Honestly, you really would never know they had
anything at all in common. It really is something you only have to consider when installing, or, if you don't own it, when tracking it down.

Now onto the dynamic campaign.  For a single player sim, this is the meat on the bones. This means WOFF UE has the body of a Greek God! So much work has gone into creating an experience that draws you in, and soon you find yourself fully immersed as a pilot during WWI flying high above the Western front.  You can, if you want to, choose exactly which squadron and what date you enlist and start your campaign. Or you can choose a date, and start in training, learning how to fly well behind the lines. Once you successfully complete your training then you could be assigned anywhere in any type of plane! Just like it was for those trainee pilots, but without the high possibility of death before your training was completed, saying that your in-game pilot can still die at this point, if you have a terrible crash.

OBD have done a tremendous amount of research on each squadron, including its aces and at which airfield they were at through out the war.  As you can imagine, with the number of squadrons I mentioned earlier, how much work that must have entailed! The squadrons are also rated as either on defence or offence aswell as how good it is, which can change during the War depending on the squadrons circumstances at that particular time. Also, the morale of the squadron as a whole is considered. You can if you wish request a transfer, as well as request leave.

Historically accurate Medals are awarded both to yourself and to your squadron members. Also, just like the War, you have to fill in a claim form when you think you've shot down one of the enemy. On the harder difficulty levels this can be denied, just like it was for the pilots back then. As for options regarding both difficulty and visually the game has plenty to choose from, so you can customise the experience to suit both how you want to play and what sort of rig you have. So the dynamic campaign is fantastic and surpasses all previous WWI flight sims. Play dead is dead difficulty and see how many hours you can do over the Western Front!

One final thing I want to mention about the game is that you can check on what aces are around at the particular time of the current campaign. You'll find that many even have their biography written, and when you see how many have a written biography it dawns on you just how much work has gone into this Sim. Along side any biography you'll find the Aces kills upto the particular date of your campaign, and as you continue forward the kills will be updated keeping inline with the pilots historical tally. The kill can even state who the unfortunate pilot and in a two seater observer were! The amount of research here, at your finger tips , could easily be published as a book in its own right. My hat goes of to you OBD. Stunning work!

Oh little tip when you get the game. Click "Credits". A little treat is waiting for you there.

Go check out the excellent WOFF forum at Sim HQ. Also like to thank the forum members if I've used one of their screenshots. 

WOFF webpage.

What you get with UE and New Feature List

 WOFF UE incorporates

Wings Over Flanders Fields 1
Wings Over Flanders Fields Expansion 2
Wings Over Flanders Fields Expansion 3
Add On Fokker Scourge
Add On Balance of Power
Add On Motley Crew

Plus all the updates, in an easy to install package.

Some of the new Features for UE

Two new two seater planes Bregeut 14 A.2 and the Caudon G.4
Enhanced Direct X Shaders
Huge performance increase
Revised Damage Models for all planes
Revised and improved lighting systems
Fully revised French Squadrons
New Winter Trees
Revised Flak

and many more features and improvements

Note: Also the Skin pack add on is now free for everybody:)

Nearly forgot to mention a major highlight!!

Last but not least is Matt Milne's outstanding musical score! What would WOFF be without it? Missing one of its vital elements for sure. The music could easily sell in the classical music section of a music store. In fact, I'm pretty certain it could get into the classical charts. Honestly, it's absolutely first class and adds so much to the atmosphere. So you can see, from its music to its campaigns and on to its visuals WOFF UE won't let you down. It's my favourite ever flight sim and all flight simmers should own it!