Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Some old things in my filing cabinet...and Pulp Alley at the Shed

Off to the Shed again yesterday and the opportunity to field some of my own figures on Eric's splendid scenery.  In order to get them there safely I decided to hunt out some magnetic paper I thought I had, to put in a file box. In one of my metal filing cabinet drawers I have a lot of old wargames rules, flags, shield transfers, cuttings and other ephemera and while looking (unsuccessfully) for the magnetic paper found some old stuff from the past.  I pulled out the hanging file right at the back (you know, the one that when you pull it out means you inevitably scrape your hand on the top of the unit) and all sorts of strange things were within.

The first thing I came across were the oldest wargames rules I own,  Gladiatorial Combat Rules by the Paragon Wargames Group.  I think I bought these in about 1975 to use with my Greenwood and Ball Garrison gladiators (above).  While these weren't quite the first metal figures I painted they were certainly the first I gamed with, using Paragon's typewritten rules. 

Paragon Wargames Group originated in Paragon Comprehensive School and Youth Club in Southwark, South London.  They were great proselytisers of wargaming and even appeared (bottom right, above) in a feature on model soldiers in UK Penthouse in August 1976.  

Their rules were the usual typewritten and then duplicated (not photocopied!) effort typical of many rules of the day.  The Paragon school building, which dates from 1900, is now home to swanky apartments (although I am not sure that "swanky" and "Southwark" aren't contradictory terms).

Now my figures were 25mm, of course, but the rules also suggested that they could be used for 54mm figures (movement was by square not distance).  At the back of the rules they offered some helpful conversion tips which included carving helmets from Plastic Padding (none of your poncey Greenstuff or ProCreate in those days)

The subject of these conversions was one of the Britain's Herald Trojans (above).  I had a lot of these when I was small although they are not exactly historically accurate and owe more to the style of the 1956 film Helen of Troy with Stanley Baker and a 21 year old Brigitte Bardot as a handmaiden.

Next, and rather more recent, I found a set of rules for Colonial Warfare called Bundock and Bayonet by none other than Mr Robert Cordery.  I have no recollection of where or when I got these but must have a look at them! 

Also in the same folder was this album of cigarette cards which belonged to my father.  Note that the cutting edge fighter, the Mark 1 Spitfire (with two blade propellor) is so new that performance details are not "available".  Probably so the dastardly Hun can't find out the details!  I love these flying boats too and wish you could get a 1/48th model of one of them!  Perfect for Pulp!

Mujahedin.  Pen and ink (1981)

I've not got on with any of my Afghan Wars figures for a week or so but did find this drawing I did of an Afghan warrior in 1981.  I did it to illustrate an article for a magazine.  I used to like doing pen and ink drawings and did quite a few illustrations for various publications in the eighties.  I remember that I had to do this really quickly to meet the printing deadline and stayed up until about two o'clock in the morning to finish it.  My girlfriend at the time stayed up with me and made me lots of cups of tea but she did get cross when I started to do the "unnecessary" embroidered sleeve and told me to get to bed!  Who could argue with such a lovely redhead?

Anyway, off to the Shed for the second week running and a game using Pulp Alley, which was new to most of us.  Not that that mattered as it was easy to pick up (except for me, of course).  It is a game for small bands of figures (10 in the rules although we used 8) and has characters whose differing strengths are represented by the dice they use to undertake actions.  All characters have to throw more than a four to do an action but leaders, for example, have D10s so that is easier than the minions who have to get the same score but on a D6.  Injuries are reflected by dropping down a dice level. which is clever.

There are also various action cards which can be played to effect the game by targetting other players or by improving your chances to do something (giving you an extra dice roll or restoring health, etc.)   Although designed for two players we had four which seemed to work pretty well.  I'm sure Eric will put something up on his blog shortly which will make more sense to proper gamers.  They do, however, provide that real sense of pulp adventure I had been looking for in a set of rules for some time.  Highly recommended!  You can get a free pdf of the basic rules here.

Eric's splendid board had four groups converging on a town in 1930s Egypt.  Each of us starting from one corner of the board.  We had to collect two out of four clues on the board to unlock an inscription on an obelisk.  Although the location of the clues was visible they were not all as easy to capture as there were also certain perils on the board which had to be overcome.

I was able to use my own figures for my team who are obviously the successors of the Servants of Ra last seen in action in the countryside forty years in the past.  It was a first game for my Foundry Mummy (different from the North Star IHMN one) and Max Kalba (far right) a Copplestone Castings adventurer.  So we have my leader, the High Priest, his sidekick, the Mummy and Max Kalba, the keeper of the Book of the Undead.  He used to have the scrolls but a course of mercury cured him.  Five followers make up my force.  Also on the board were a team of Nazis ("I hate these guys!"), a team of British officers with Sikh troops and at the far corner a group of adventurers led by a man with a bullwhip and fedora.

Quick! It feels a bit boggy!

My passage towards the village took me through a narrow defile where one of my opponents tried to place a quicksand peril, which given the dismal standard of my dice throwing at the beginning of the game could have seen me knocked out in the first move.  Fortunately, Eric, knowing the dismal standard of my dice throwing and my inability to understand new rules, took pity on me and moved the peril elsewhere (although I did, in fact, subsequently encounter it and defeated it.  Thanks, Mummy).

I came in from the top left and headed for the encampment.

The nearest clue was located in a Bedouin encampment, so my leader headed straight to it but was struck down by poisonous snakes.  Action in the camp was intense and while holding off marauding Sikhs (like Southall in the eighties) the High Priest tried several times to wrest the clue from the mysterious Arabs.  Max Kalba tried to help but expired in the attempt (in fact in these rules you don't really die but can come back in the next thrilling episode). His health drained, the  high Priest eventually had to give up on this clue.

Meanwhile the main part of my group began an ongoing skirmish against the dastardly Nazis, who were first to collect a clue through the brutal figure of Herr Kutz.  This man had an unfortunate hair style, a toothbrush mustache (not a good look to inspire a loyal following, you might think) and was very tough indeed.  He and the Mummy entered into a bruising set of brawls while his minions riddled the Mummy with lead, to no effect.  He is already dead, you see.

Switching tactics we decided to capture the two clues the Nazis now held and sent the Mummy and our five minions after the Germans, who were now trying to decypher the inscriptions on the obelisk.  The British were also attacking the Nazis but then my Mummy came under fire from seemingly all the adventurers who really should have known better than to help Nazis.  Americans! They must have been TMP Lounge members.

My forces close in on the Germans who, without the Book of the Undead to decypher the obelisk's hieroglyphs, are looking in the wrong place!

Fortunately, the elephant gun of Doddery Ken and some Sikhs on the British side and all my minions and my high priest on the other side soon removed the knot of Germans clustered around the foot of the obelisk.  I tried to unlock the secrets and, for once, my dice rolling came though.  The secret was mine and I had won (completely to my surprise).  I had only lost one figures as well.


So, another truly fantastic game at the Shed thanks to Eric.  I am currently part way through a 1920's/30s force for use in this part of the world so I will have to push along with them now.  Meanwhile the world will hear again from The High Priest and his servants.

Next stop, Salute!


  1. Nice bit of freehand artwork with the Afghan!
    And very enjoyable report from the Shed! :)

  2. Playing with your own painted figures and winning too boot! As to shots fired on the mummy well you know us Americans we like to shoot first and ask questions later. You where a passable hand with a pen in your youth.

  3. Absolutely brilliant! Fantastic table. Really must try Pulp Alley.

  4. Just came accross this and as a one time member of Paragon wargames club I remember play testing the gladiator rules
    as well as the world war one Air craft rules
    Great times