Have a rummage...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

7TV: Chien-Jour après-midi, parte deux...

It's not surprising that, off-screen, both the Man from F.R.A.N.C.E. and Riot Squad: In Color! have finally incurred the wrath* of Mary Whitehorse and her National Viewers and Snoopers Association.

Mind you, when you consider what's been happening to the various dogs fielded by SpyForce UK, it is surprising that pet shops are still willing to sell livestock to its production team.

*In game-speak, both casts suffer a reduced ability to hit their targets during their next game.

7TV Campaign: "Now You See Them- Now You Don't!"

Courtesy of Doc Neodynium!

Flush from beating SpyForce UK into a comatose state, the boys of Riot Squad- In Color! thought it'd be a breeze, taking down Yankee upstart, The S.P.A.C.E. Man.

They thought wrong.

Riot Squad- In Color! versus The S.P.A.C.E. Man


VOSTOK hatch a plan to feed the British with false intelligence regarding a known terrorist who is in fact famed rocket scientist and moon rocket designer  Werner von Broon (clearly the son of a German mother and Geordie father). The British send in Riot Squad to obtain the scientist for questioning. With international relations at stake. S.P.A.C.E are called in to stop the identity of Von Braun being divulged.

VOSTOK provide Riot Squad with details of S.P.A.C.E’s location and even mix up the equipment of the two forces.

The future for S.P.A.C.E looks bleak as Atlas and Redstone are set upon by the British coppers. But new recruit Matt Juno proves his worth in distracting the Riot Squad, allowing Redstone and Atlas to back off and use their deadly ranged weaponry. In the end Riot Squad flee without divulging the nature of the “terrorist”. America saves face and its all thanks to Redstone and co.


As the show had several controversies regarding extras at this point it was decided to scale back the episode to just include the key stars. The TITAN suit was not functioning delaying its screen debut. Mark Hamill also made his staring debut as Matt Juno but in a less preachy role than before. In fact, the whole episode was much more action based, a reaction to the criticism of the first episode.

The episode still courted controversy with scenes of Von Broon, although these were kept to a minimum. The level of violence, whilst okay for an American audience, caused a censorship outcry in Britain where it was aired as a Riot Squad episode.

This episode was the first to feature the Astrovan prop, although not as a working vehicle but as a simple static prop. The reaction from the public resulted in a British sponsorship deal with Ready Brek, which in turn provided the funding for an actual working Astrovan stunt vehicle for future episodes. 


The design of the Astrovan was heavily *kof* influenced *kof* by the Gerry Anderson series UFO.

The Special effects employed for the disintegrator weapons were subsequently used by Ready Brek in their adverts.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Charlie Don't Surf: "Bad luck? Our mistake was to play like regulars..."

Sooo...to Vietnam, the border with Laos and "Playing The Beanball", scenario six from Surf's Up, Too Fat Lardies' scenario collection for Charlie Don't Surf.  The Free World mission?  Evacuate the village, then deny Communists the future use of the hooches.  The Communist mission?  Ensure that at least some of the Hooches remain standing when the Free World depart, preferably after launching three successful ambushes.

It was going so well for the VC.  The RVN police platoon had deployed in the depths of jungle and exhibited a great deal of hesistancy in leaving the cover it afforded.  Not one but two US platoons had been distracted and drawn by a pair of retiring VC squads to the south-east, away from the village that was to be evacuated and destroyed.  The remaining US platoon was unwittingly advancing towards to what would hopefully be a second successful VC ambush.

It then went all Du Long* for the VC, in a fit of uncharacteristic hubris...let's rewind and look at events from the Free World's point of view.

As stated previously, on their very first turn of the Free World Blind chip, the RVN police platoon chose to come off their blind and attempt to advance upon the village from the east, but they made exceptionally slow progress.  The controlling player (Jerry) rapidly realised the benefits on remaining on blinds, but sadly in the manner of one who shuts a stabledoor after the horse has bolted.  To compound matters, the RVN police found themselves to be hesistant in the extreme, and so played no part in the ensuing events!

A pair of Free World Blinds confidently advanced towards the village from the east, but along a clearer part of the jungle to the south of their RVN allies.   Unfortunately, they got no further than 150 yards before they were revealed as US 1st and 2nd Platoons (controlled by relatively veteran CDS player Mr. Bowman).  The VC CO deemed the time right to launch the first of his ambushes, and US 2nd Platoon began to take shock.  The Free World were clearly riled by this, and both the platoons' COs ordered them to divert from their route in order to plunge into the jungle and seek revenge.  To add insult to injury, the VC CO deemed the time right to bring a sniper into play, to harrass the blundering US platoons.  

Quite rightly, the time came for the VC CO to begin the orderly withdrawal of his sole platoon to be revealed thus far.  Fire was exchanged as each side advanced and withdrew by turns.  Soon, two VC squads had made it to the outskirts of some hooches set apart from the main village, with one remaining squad just breaking free of the tree line.  Two US platoons had been successfully diverted from the focus of their mission, and (despite efforts of COs) were struggling with shock amidst the dark jungle.  Clearly, the VC were poised to continue their withdrawal, in order to launch another ambush....

In the meantime, US 3rd Platoon actually stuck to the plan (they were also controlled by Jerry, and providing him with a good deal more entertainment than the RVN Police).  Encouraged by their CO and NCO, they rapidly made their way across towards the village, and began the process of gathering the various groups of villagers in preparation for their evacuation.  At the same time, slicks were called in by the Company CO.  Unfortunately, it was at this point that a VC MG opened up upon them from a concealed bunker.

Two successful VC ambushes  All their forces still concealed bare one MG-filled bunker and one platoon.  What could go wrong for the VC now?

The title quote for this post is a clue.  The VC platoon which had so successfully distracted two US platoons took us all by surprise by going on the offensive, and trying to meet the US in pitched battle.  Suffice to say, this did not end well for said VC platoon.  The brace of VC players were also rattled by being on the end of a highly-successful bunker-bustin' shot from US 3rd Platoon over in the village.

Their morale appeared to snap with the prompt arrival of the slicks.  With AA fire found to be ineffective, another VC platoon revealed itself to the west of the paddy fields skirting the village, and it attempted to close with the squad from US 3rd Platoon.  Unfortunately, the chips did not fall (literally) in favour of the VC.

To be precise, the slicks left- albeit with only half the villagers- only to be followed with frightening speed by a Hog, which unleashed firey doom upon the VC platoon that found itself out in open paddy field.  Unleashing its entire payload in short order, the Hog zipped off as fast as it arrived; the US players were clearly satisfied by the havoc it had wreaked.

By now, the VC resolve had crumbled, and they began to withdraw.  Remaining VC aggression took the form of their sniper having a couple more potshots before withdrawing, and US 1st Platoon finally contacted one of the VC minefields, but came through unscathed.   It was time to consider victory, military and political...

In the end, military victory was deemed by all to have gone to the VC.  Whilst terribly blooded, they had- by close of play- undertaken all their ambushes, and most of the village was still intact, perfect for a base of future operations.  By contrast, the US had only evacuated half of the villagers, and only two hooches had been fired.

Politically, the US had this in the bag.  They successfully policed the battlefield for various intelligence markers and managed to turn a number of estimated kills into confirmed kills.  By comparison, for all the Shock successfully inflicted, the VC had very few kills.

Lessons learned?  Well, to paraphrase the players...
Jerry- "Stay on blinds for as long as possible for cohesion; make sure Free World Big Men are where they can coordinate as many of their men as possible!"
Mr. Bowman- "Stick to the Free World mission, man!  Don't be afraid to pour on the direct fire support when civvies aren't about"
Smallridge & Sharman- "VC are not Regulars; VC are not Regulars; VC are not Regulars**..."

*Not sure this is the correct spelling, but it does scan for the purposes of Mockney rhyming.
**Repeat as required.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Round Robin Comes Round Again...

Well, today saw Abingdon Wargames Club send forth its finest members* to compete in the annual Round Robin competition organised and hosted by the Oxford club.
Bucking tradition, we came third, rather than the usual last, with an overall score of 22.5 points.  The games on offer this year were:

Raid!- Four groups of goblinoids compete to see who can bring the most loot out of an abandoned dwarf hold.
Predator!- Predators and human Special forces race to see who can search three crash sites first (played twice, once as predators, once as Special Forces)
City State- Four city states compete to see who can acquire the most wealth through military conquest, territorial growth and bribery.
Retreat!- French forces attempt to flee from Waterloo (?) to the safety of a nearby town as Prussian cavalry move to mop them up (again, each player had two go at this; once as the French and once as the Prussians).

All good fun, and we're looking forward to next year's offerings!

In other news, the 7TV campaign takes a break and is replaced by Charlie Don't Surf as one of the two offerings for Abingdon Wargames Club's 18th December Sunday "all-day" meeting.  As ever, pictures and a write up should appear here ahortly after!  From earlier posts, the astute may work out what may be appearing on, or perhaps over, the jungle-festooned table...

*In other words, those who were available.

Friday, 9 December 2011

7TV Campaign: Dog-Day Afternoon...

"You've the initiative, SpyForce UK."

"Humph.  Fine.  In that case, we burn all our first actions to open the landrover's bloody windows so we can get out."

SpyForce UK versus Riot Squad: In Color!

This week's broadcast saw things take a decidedly more adult turn (although that was nothing to do with SpyForce UK's fur-clad researcher; apparently the actress portraying her had an audition with the RSC...).  Things would be decidely more violent than last time.  It would also appear that both sides were being manipulated by forces beyond their ken.  For their part, SpyForce UK believed they were racing to recover the pilot of a downed experimental aircraft, vefore he could be abducted by the agents of a foreign power.  By contrast, Riot Squad had been told they needed to locate a supergrass.  He'd attempted to flee the country by 'plane, but sabotage meant he'd been forced to earth; he had to be found before his somewhat narked Firm turned up to teach him a lesson. 

There was clearly some kind of mix-up between the various props and set crew before filming began (which the SpyForce cast took to be a continuation of a mysterious run of bad luck that has cursed their production).  In short, the SpyForce UK Landrover found itself sandwiched between two cargo containers, totally unable to move, much to the frustraion of its driver, Private Wheeler.    

As such, SpyForce UK spent their first turn extricating themselves from the now immobilised landrover via its windows and doors.  They were not amused with this start to their search.  In the meantime, some of the members of Riot Squad began to sweep the abandoned industrial landscape for their quarry, whilst thew rest of team waited in their trusty- and mobile- van.

Soon both teams were combing the area, and it was SpyForce UK's Major Erskine who successfully ran their man to ground.  In part, they had overcome their initial slow start by Private Harris releasing Wolfgang, SpyForce UK's mascot and sniffer dog.  Clearly Wolfgang was peckish, as he went for the throat of the nearest Riot Squad member, who now abandoned all thoughts of the manhunt.   

By now, both casts chose to indulge in a spot of the old ultra-violence.  Small-arms were employed against Riot Squad, but it would appear SpyForce's quartermaster had erred, for the effectiveness of the fire suggested blanks were being used.  For their part, Riot Squad found that SpyForce UK's squaddies were susceptible to being bludgeoned with truncheons; this was of little comfort to the constable who had had his trachea enthusiastically removed by Wolfgang.
However, numbers finally took their toll and the out-numbered members of SpyForce UK were stunned and dragged off by Riot Squad, who took custody of the fugitive both sides had sought.  Luckily, the Old Boys network was able to intervene before Erskine did a spell in the Scrubs.

Behind the scenes, more amusing shenanigans occurred when it transpired that SpyForce UK's production team- or to be precise, the accountant- had lost £10,000 on the dogs.  Cries of "But Arfur Nightly said it was a sure thing!" fell on deaf ears.
By contrast, Lady Luck still had an eye for the other chaps in uniform, as Riot Squad: In Color! bagged yet another Benny award.  Rumour has it that, just like some of their real life counterparts, Riot Squad's producers have contacts who are all square and on the level...

Back in the real world...
The sharp-eyed may have noticed a limited number of sets- Rural and Industrial.  Taking inspiration from the shows that inspired 7TV, *kofclassicdoctorwhokof* it's clear that this is because those very shows had only a limited number of sets themselves...  

7TV Campaign: Across The Pond...

Just time before nipping off to tonight's instalment of the 7TV campaign to bring you SpyForce UK's version of the events that transpired on 25th November.  Over to you, Major...

As the producers of SPYFORCE UK had promised, it did not show them as superhuman or always victorious. A reduced cast were seen in the first episode: Major John Erskine MC (SPYFORCE UK's leader, the programme's focus), Jill Steward (lovely in her Viking re-enactment clothes), Mike French (Technician and boffin) and finally Private Wheeler (their driver with his trusty Landrover).
SPYFORCE UK was up against a crafty and nefarious group led by the S.P.A.C.E Man, made up of various American renegades and possible Soviet Spymasters plus robots.

As in any adventure, luck played a major part. In this episode all the luck went with the S.P.A.C.E Man.  Nefarious VOSTOK had stolen a C-130 containing parts of a new third stage booster vital to NASA’s Mars Mission. Whilst the plane had been forced down it had managed to dump its cargo of parts and technical reports across an abandoned industrial complex in Florida. Both the S.P.A.C.E Man team and SPYFORCE UK raced to the location. As luck had it, the S.P.A.C.E Man was nearer and able to create a cordon around the industrial complex. SPYFORCE UK which had been stationed in Belize took longer to reach the industrial complex. Although they had their trusty Landrover, the S.P.A.C.E Man had managed to quickly secure two parts and its associated paperwork.

Whilst Major John Erskine made a rush to gain one part, the S.P.A.C.E Man group infilitrated and stole the part before Erskine could get there.  All was not lost as Jill Steward dived out of the Landrover and snatched another component elsewhere. After successfully obtaining yet another part, John Erskine and Private Wheeler fell into a chemical tank which luckily only had dirty water in it.  This distraction left the route open for John RedStone to race for and leap over a fence to secure the final piece.  

After the show had finished it was possible to see the implications of the first episode and to learn the necessary lessons to improve. Despite the episode ending with the US team victorious, SPYFORCE UK was seen to be “riding a crest of a wave” and hopes are high that ratings will soar after the next episode is broadcast.  SPYFORCE UK earned enough production kudos to gain MOD assistance with extras, precise details of which will be revealed in future episodes!

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Despite the recent deluge of 7TV posts, I have been keeping my hand in the Lard, so to speak in the meantime, metaphorically nibbling away at the leadpile for Vietnam and Charlie Don't Surf.

Firstly, the Peter Pig door gunners for an under-strength aero-rifle platoon are now all painted and ready to be attached to the four waiting Revell 1/100th Hueys.  Just need to check that there's nothing more that needs to be done to the Hueys.  Once they're sorted, the Hogs and Cobras can be attended to.

Likewise, a start has been made on three firebase terrain pieces from Frontline Wargaming.  As is usual with these things, on the day the Frontline parcel arrived, Timecast released some more goodies for Vietnam firebases and similar military installations!  This is not a problem though, as this means a less uniform look can be generated by mixing the various manufacturers' pieces- everyone's a winner!

Lastly, green stuff has been applied to the gaps in some paddy field I've attempted to make, in an effort to increase the likelihood that I'll have a crack at slapping some paint on them over the winter hols.

This level of (relative) organisation really is most perturbing.

Oh, and there was a black pudding and roast parsnip jumble for lunch today.  Good-o.

7TV Campaign: Jimmy Albion's...Grave Mistake

(Finally, the report of my own game on Friday, which is woefully inadequate compared to the others!)

Jimmy Albion & The Nuneaton Ninja versus The Man From F.R.A.N.C.E.

Strange signals have been detected in the vicinity of a site containing both an old graveyard and a considerably older stone circle (location shooting at Avebury didn't threaten the budget too much).  Unbeknownst to each other, rival agencies have been despatched to investigate, and bring back intelligence...

"Don't go into the graveyard, Jimmy; it'll be the death of you..."
Erm...well...that'd be a lie.  Despite the snap-shooting of OSS 118, The Man From F.R.A.N.C.E., this also proved to be another short, sweet and bloodless game (a good thing too, as my opponent, Mr T- no, not that one- had but a scant 90 minutes to spend at the club).  

Essentially, Mr T's Jimmy and his Ninja chums retained the initiative, bounding merrily around the countryside snaffling up objective markers like they were sweets (which, to be fair, they were; given 7TV's 70s globetrotting, international roots, Ferrero Rocher were the only option).

By comparison, OSS 118 was very much on his own.  Van Der Stroell's cameo role meant he was never going to be seen on camera until the start of turn four, and instead of the dependable Ms. Betouche, OSS 118's eye candy in this episode was the ditzy Marie-Chantal.  Resigned to having to do all the work himself *again*, OSS 118 administered an adrenaline shot to himself and managed to pick up two markers (he can't 'alf shift it when he wants to).  Another marker was also picked up by Marie Chantal who- bless her!- had wandered into the crypt looking for somewhere to fix her hair.  This would never have happened if the pragmatic Ms. Betouche had been on the case.

Realising there was no point now hanging around, OSS 118 began to withdraw, but his attention was drawn to a distinctive white tuxedo shining in the gloom from behind a nearby hedge.  A snap shot was sent in the direction of Jimmy Albion (for 'twas he) but the cowardly rosbif was wearing body armour!  At this point, it was time for an ad break....

As was stated at the start, short and sweet indeed.

Well, both shows managed to recoup their expenses, but diverged wildly after that!  Industrial action somehow spread from the S.P.A.C.E. backlot to that of the F.R.A.N.C.E. production team (perhaps it's something to do with all the acronyms attracting the unions?) with actor Harry Vorster (who portrayed Van der Stroell) striking in sympathy.  Luckily the production team pulled a "Darryl" and simply replaced Vorster with Bazza Flosster, albeit at some cost.
By comparison, Sydney Barron- or at least someone close to him- must have taken a close interest in Jimmy Albion et al, as it looks like Department X star Pandora King (Yes! The Pandora King!) is going to be making a cameo appearance in a future episode.  Lucky blighter!

Back in the real world...
The next scheduled broadcast of these fine 7TV shows is due to be Friday 9th December.  Stay tuned!

7TV Campaign: Behind The Scenes Shenanigans...

In 7TV, an actual game represents your cast and crew filming a scripted episode or scene, complete with special effects and so forth.

However, in the context of a campaign, between games each player also gets to find out what is happening off-screen, whether that's in your show's production office ("What do you mean, Benny the accountant is missing?"), at an awards ceremony ("I owe it all to my pet budgie...") or (oh dear) in the tabloid press...

By way of example, therefore, here's an extract from The Stage, concerning the backlot of The S.P.A.C.E. Man show (once again, courtesy of the Doc)...

“Equality for Extras?”

While it is the big stars themselves that sell a show there are times when the lesser roles in a show play just an important part. Even harking back to the silent films of the 20’s it was the scenes with many hundreds if not thousands of extras that stole the show. But while the life of an extra in film or TV is always one that will pay little, even what little rights they have are often squandered.

One such controversy saw me driving my battered 57 Chevy to a disused industrial complex on the outskirts of St Augustine Florida. The old and disused apparatus were quietly rusting in the Florida sun, but pocked between them were stranger sights. Bits of rocket litter the landscape and men in strange uniforms sat around calmly eating lunch. For this was the set of The S.P.A.C.E Man, 7TV’s latest escapade about rockets, spies and action. Except that when I turn up, the only action is two extras dressed in military uniform getting marched off set. 

Dicky Mainwaring, the show’s British director and producer took me over to the production van, but not without introducing me to his cast. It was good to meet the blond beefcake that is Rhett Braun and the technical marvel of T.I.T.A.N, (played by P. Mayhugh and voiced by UK-based Pete Horkins). Yet the fact there were few extras was of puzzlement to me.

The cast of The S.P.A.C.E. Man. The two extras fired are far left and right. Mark Bacomill pictured second left
 “We had to let our extras go” admitted Dicky once we had settled into our plush chairs and he had poured me some tea (“A memento of home” he tells me). “Our show has to date had few extras in it due to the cost of effects”. This was clearly true, but I had to ask whether it had more to do with the double standards by which the extras were treated. After all, the sacking would not be big news were it was not for the promotion of extra Mark Bacomill from a brief appearance as a simple technician to an “Also Starring” credit.

“If there are double standards then it’s to do with the scripted character, not the actor himself.” admits Dicky. “The simple truth is the role Mark played had far more potential than either the pay he was getting or the presence we realised it gave to the show”. I ask him if he knew the two extras were Vietnam vets and that their sacking might be seen as unpatriotic. He laughs and shakes his head.

“There is no discrimination. While Mark’s role was expanded, theirs was not. They both wanted more pay for the same role and the studio is unwilling to do that. I have no personal grievances with either of them”. Finally I ask about the manner of their ejection from set. “Oh, that’s because one of them grew angry and started damaging the set. Many parts of the set are from NASA and cost a great deal for us to hire in. But no charges will be made”.

No comment came from either sacked extra, But Lorrie Fishbone’s lawyer wished us to know that “legal action may be underway after the case has been assessed”.

Meanwhile, The S.P.A.C.E Man is looking for extras to replace the roles lost and is adding one more extra to the cast. If interested please respond to the various advertisements placed in the industry newspapers such as this august organ, via Mr Mainwaring’s PA.

One of the disgruntled extras
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