Monday, October 26, 2009

25 Year Drought Ends. Montreal Canadians Win Game

In the years since Feb 23, 1984 when I attended my first NHL  game at the Montreal Forum  I  never saw the Canadians win a match. I moved to MTL in 1997 and in the years that followed both the Habs and the Expos continued to disappoint when I was in attendence.  The 25 year old drought ended tonight with the 3-2 victory over the NY Islanders.

BTW The Winnipeg Jets won the game so many years ago.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Draconis 2009

I’ve been meaning to write about my experience at the Draconis convention all week. The convention had no miniature component and IMO was top heavy with RPGs. However this is part of give the people what they want. I signed up for only one game in advance and that was to play Talisman on Saturday morning.

The convention was held Friday night to Sunday afternoon (Oct 16th to Oct 18th) with six game slots, each of 4 hours length with a break in between. Thus we had one slot on Friday, three on Saturday and two on Sunday. I believe there were 15 gaming tables located in two rooms, a dealer’s room and a small AV room for the panels and workshops that were held. I would estimate overall attendance at about 150 people.

My main goal was to play some board games and help out Doug Blair with his Ludus Locus tables. Doug's description was “Ludus Locus is a free gaming area manned by some dedicated board game enthusiasts. Many popular board game titles will be available in both French and English. Gamers are invited to stop by in their free time and try a new game or play an old favorite.” Doug brought in about 20 games and I contributed to the cause withTrans America, Illuminati, Beltstrike and a copy of Wings of War.

Friday night at Ludus Locus I along with 4 other newbies were introduced by Doug to Ticket to Ride, a rail road game. After one round we were left on our own and finished playing in less than two hours. I then introduced the other four players to Illuminati and refed while the others played. Ticket to Ride was my favorite board game of the weekend.

Sat 9:00 AM I played Talisman (3rd edition). We had a 5 player game and at 1:00 PM when our timeslot ran out, there were three players standing that had a chance to take on the dragon king. So to decide a winner, we had Dragon King face off. It took three attempts before I was able to slay the great worm. The others failed.

Sat 2:00 PM Back to Ludus Locus, where I was introduced to the board game adaptation of Ken Follet’s, Pillars of the Earth (actually Les Piliers de la Terre). It is a six turn manpower-resource management game where one gains victory points towards building the cathedral. The player with the most points wins. Events and available resources are card driven.

Sat 7:00 PM I took a break and went out to watch the hockey game. The Canadians lost.

Sun 9:00 AM Back to Ludus Locus where I was one of three players in Notre Dame. This is another church building game set in Paris during the middle ages. A player earns prestige points that are considered his contribution to the erection of Notre Dame. The game lasts three main turns, each with three sub turns and one major book keeping phase. The Black Death is very real and every player keeps track of the rat population in their “quartier”, as it has negative effects on one’s prestige Like Pillars of the .Earth, events and resources are card driven. Notre Dame is the more complex game.

I then showed one person how to play Trans America, a small railway building game. It took about 45 minutes to complete.

Sun 2:00 PM One of the things that we were doing over the weekend was playing Wings of War whenever there was spare time. We had one final dogfight between Doug and myself. I already had earned four kills over the weekend and needed one more to become an ace. I had not been shot down. It was our first encounter. Doug went down under my guns but it took a while. I flew the Sopwith Camel for this match. You have to love the right rotary turn of this plane.

Ludus Locus was sponsored by Filosofia ( and the last act of the weekend was to randomly draw a name from a list of all of the participants (well over 60 individual entries) who took part in the various games played over the weekend at the Ludus Locus corner. The prize offered by Filosofia was a copy of the board game Megawatts, the French version of Power Grid, with France and Quebec map boards. Congratulations to Luc Millette, the winner of the draw, as well as to Doug Blair for having run a successful gaming weekend.

Doug was approached by the convention committee and asked to run the board gaming program at next year's convention.

I would call the weekend a success. I learned to play three new games, won Talisman and achieved ace status playing Wings of War. I look forward to Draconis 2010 (the 5th edition) next fall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Remembering F/Sgt Earl William Bock

It was 65 years ago last night that a young man of 21 was killed in action over the skies of Germany. Earl William Bock was one of my two namesakes, my grandfather being the other.

The following information was obtained from Dave Stapleton of the 626 Squadron Research Project on F/Sgt Bock's last mission.

The 626 Squadron Operations Record Book RAF Form 540 (The Squadron Diary) records that F/Sgt Earl William Bock was posted into 626 Squadron with his crew on the 2nd September 1944 from 11 Base. F/Sgt Bock was the Rear Gunner in the crew and flew 11 operational sorties with the crew.

On the 22nd October 1944 the crew took off on their 11th operational sortie in Lancaster LM689 UM-N2. The task on this sortie was mine laying in the Kattegat area and only two 626 Squadron Lancasters were detailed to fly on this operation; they were part of a force of 20 Lancasters and 19 Halifaxes. The aircraft took off at 16.27hrs.

At 20.21hrs on the homeward bound leg of the sortie the aircraft was attacked by an unidentified enemy aircraft at close range from below and dead astern. The Mid Upper Gunner fired 100 rounds in the direction of the trace (tracer bullets from the enemy aircraft) and he observed a long burst from the rear turret before the Rear Gunner F/Sgt E W Bock stopped firing. It was later found that F/Sgt Bock had been killed by cannon fire from the enemy aircraft.

The Lancaster was riddled with 19 x 20mm cannon shells along the length of the fuselage, the port aileron had been shot away and the intercom was unserviceable. The bomb doors had also been blown open. The aircraft made a safe landing at RAF Woodbridge on its return.

My father was also tail gunner on a 626 SQD Lancaster and often wondered why he was lucky enough to have made it, when others like his friend Earl did not. So this Remembrance Day, during the two minutes of silence please give thoughts or a prayer to a memory of a young man whose life was cut short so long ago.

Earlier this year after a trip to the Memorial Chapel in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill I discovered that Earl's nephew, Art Osborne had published on-line a page of remembrance. It was from his site that I obtained the picture used at the top of this post.

Earl Bock's name is displayed on page 252 of the WW2 Book of Remembrance on May 27th each year. 

Friday, October 16, 2009

Draconis 2009 Montreal's Own Gaming Convention

This weekend is Montreal's own gaming convention. The con starts tonight when the doors open at 6:00PM and will end Sunday evening at 6:00PM. It is top heavy with RPGs and has no miniature component but I'll be attending to play some board games.

Draconis 2009 Link:

From the English home page we have:

Draconis is a game convention held annually in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Traditionally, it occurs during the autumn. For this year's edition, the convention will be returning to its original location, the Days Hotel and Conference Centre, near Guy-Concordia Metro. The focus this year will be on tabletop roleplaying games and board games.

In the past, board games have been a weak point for the convention, so this year we're encouraging more people to run and play them. We also plan to host some of the new organised roleplaying campaigns, such as Living Forgotten Realms and Pathfinder Society.

The location is

Days Hotel & Conference Center
1005 Guy Street
Montreal (Quebec), Canada
H3H 2K4

Roman Auxilary Light Cavalry Completed

I picked up this unit of Roman Auxilary Light Cavalry 3 or 4 years ago and spent the last two days on getting it ready for the field. I have set a deadline for myself of the end of the month to finish painting my Roman army.

This is the third complete Roman Army I've painted. The first was my Airfix Plastics which have long gone the way of the Dodo. It was my first attempt at minis while I was still living at home.  In the early 1980s I purchased a 25mm lead Roman army. I don't even remember the make of the figures but over the years it had many add ons thanks to Ral Partha miniatures.

About 5 years ago I decided it was time to retire my 25 year veterans and replace the old figures with new. I've made  a slow and steady progress and I am at the point where I only need to paint two more units of Auxilary Infantry, two units of western empire Archers, and a unit of Auxilary Heavy Cavalry.

My new army consists of a mix of Foundry, Black Tree Design, Old Glory, Gripping Beast and Warlord Miniatures. Mixing gives a varity of poses and some differences in size of the figures. Most are in the 28mm scale.

The unit pictured above is from the Old Glory Imperial Roman Line. It is PRR-07(Roman Auxillary Light Cavalry) and is listed as 25mm scale. Old Glory Figures do not come with spears or javelins and you have to provide your own. They do offer packs of weapons for sale. I used the package of Foundry Lances (80mm steel pins) that I received this week. I cut the lance into two equal sized parts. Looking at the unit I feel that the javelins are too long at 40mm length but they'll have to do.

With Old Glory miniatures you need to drill a hole through the hand to in order to insert the javelin. I just used a Citadel Hand Drill and it took about 2-3 mins per figure. The result works.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roman Cataphracts Part IV (Completed)

It took about 5 hours of work spread between yesterday morning and today but the riders are now painted for the Roman Cataphracts. They have been glued to their horses and pass my painting standard (the three foot rule). I just need to add lances and paint the Vexillum to complete the unit. I am awaiting for the arrival of a package of Foundry Lances that I purchased last week on E-Bay. My sole fear is that they will appear to be too large in the hands of these 25mm figures. If so then I have some old piano wire spears that I'll attach instead. So I will now declare this project completed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saracen DBA/HOTT Part V: Arabian Myth

To recap an earlier posting, I had purchased on E-Bay from Mega Miniatures a number of individual figures that include an Arabian slave with fan, an Arabian Mage & crystal ball, Arabian Priest praying, Arabian Knight Commander, 2 Arabian Knight with Scimitars, and a street beggar.

My plan was to utilize these figures to create a number of HOTT (Hordes of the Things) Elements for an Arabian Mythos army. A hard rain was falling yesterday morning and I completed these figures.

Photo 1) The Caliph with his giant Negro Bodyguards (Blade General Element)
Figures used: Arabian Knight Commander, 2 Arabian Knight with Scimitars,

Due to the base size of the miniatures I was only able to get three figures on this Blade Element. I was going to include the Arabian slave with fan as part of this element but choose to place that figure on the Clerical Element instead.

Photo 2) A Vizier and Bodyguard (Magician General Element)
Figures used: Arabian Mage & crystal ball, BTD Warrior of Islam for a Bodyguard and what I believe to be a Real Partha levitating mage.
My original plan was to just base the Mega Miniature Mage and the Black Tree Design spear man as a bodyguard on this base. However as a 60mm by 60mm area it came across as quite bare.

I remembered that I had a Real Partha Magic User figure that could be added to the element as a filler. The figure itself appears to be levitating but is actually held in the air on the back of an ensorcelled demon and is the figure that came to dominate the element.

Photo 3: Imam as a Cleric Element
Figures used: Arabian Priest praying and an Arabian slave with fan. Both figures by Mega Miniatures

Photo 4: Street Beggar as a Lurker Element

When I first ordered the figure I thought that I would place it on the Clerical Element as a supporting figure but I then came around to the idea that it would make a perfect Lurker figure in its own right.

Note: BTD (Black Tree Design) figure update. This past week I was informed that the bow figures that I had on back order were finally due to arrive and that I should have them sometime next week. Once painted the Bow/Shooter elements will complete this project.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Darius, King of Kings (Completed)

The King of Kings and two of his associated suicide chariot drivers have been completed. As I wrote in my last post it was a thread in a Yahoo Group (NS Historical Gamers) that inspired me to dig out these Old Glory Models and commence work.

For some reason I found that the Chariot of this figure was at too much of an angle when I attached it to the horses. As a result I had to build up the rear of the element's base to allow the wheels of the chariot to be level with the horses' hooves with a 2nd layer of plastic card. I then used a thicker Gel to level off the front half of the element to ensure a level "playing field". Darius looks like he could be giving someone the finger.

Yesterday when I completed work on the Darius Model I also finished painting and basing two Persian 4-Horse Scythed Chariots. I have to admit that volunteering to drive these babies into a Greek Phalanx or a unit of Indian Elephants would not be a job that I'd apply for.

These figures were the first 25-28mm Chariots that I've worked on. I have painted some Chinese and Hittite 15mm chariots in the past. I like the fact that the yokes had eyes so that I could thread reins between the drivers and the horses. Next time I must remember to paint the chariot bodies and wheels separately before gluing them together.

BTW I finally started to paint the Riders of the Roman Cataphract units I have.