Thursday, August 7, 2014

What do I listen to? (and gaming progress)

With the Saga tournament date set for Sept. 13, I now have a deadline to works towards for finishing my Viking warband. Since my arm is now (almost) fully healed, I can make good progress. I have full range of motion back, and just need to keep up the exercises to get full strength back in my left arm.

Currently, I have 5 points painted up, with three more and the Warlord in progress. I think an 8-point band will be plenty:

Berserkers (x4) - 1 point
Hearthguard (x12) - 3 points
Warriors (x24) - 3 points
Levy (x12) - 1 point

After that's complete, I will begin my second band. Right now I am leaning towards Irish or Welsh.

I've got a mounted Welsh warlord and four mounted Tealu (Hearthguards) from Gripping Beast, and can use some plastic Wargames Factory cavalry for mounted Priodaur (Warriors).

Welsh mounted warlord stock photo (from Gripping Beast).
Welsh mounted Teulu stock photo (from Gripping Beast).

For the Irish, I have the 4-point starter box set from Gripping Beast:

This is the stock photo of the set (from Gripping Beast).

I do not want to get too far ahead of myself (that way lies madness, and I do not know what other shiny may grab my eye), but I am hoping to have the three bands completed by the end of the year. That will give me a choice when I go to play at Giga-Bites, and if the kids want to play as well, we'd each have a warband to use.

After that, I will likely move on to World War II, using Bolt Action from Warlord Games. I have the rules and some army books (Germany, USA, Japan), and have started to research forces and make some initial purchases (the Perry Miniatures boxed set of plastic Afrika Korps).

I also pledged for the Axis forces on the Dust: Operation Babylon Kickstarter - now I have some Dust Afrika Korps figures en route that I can use to supplement as well. And I have to figure out how to incorporate walkers into Bolt Action!

I am now looking forward to nice long afternoons of Viking painting. One thing I find that helps me relax while painting, is listening to music or podcasts. I know that some people watch movies or videos, but I cannot concentrate on painting if I am visually distracted. Additionally, I have a 45-minute to an hour drive to work, each way, which gives me plenty of time to dedicate to my favorite gaming and history podcasts.

What do I listen to? I'm glad you asked!

There are several very good gaming and history podcasts out there, and I am sure I am missing some. If your particular favorite is not listed, let me know. I am always looking for more listening material.

These are grouped by type (gaming/history) but are in no particular order:

Gaming Podcasts:

Meeples & Miniatures (Neil Schuck)
I've been a fan and a listener of this podcast for years. In fact, this is where I first heard about Saga. I thought at the time that the game seemed interesting, but I was not in a position to get into it right away. Now, years later, that I have finally caught the Saga bug, I realize that Neil's review way back then was spot on - it's a terrific game!

Neil's topics are almost always of interest to me. For example, the last episode discusses the Victorian sci-fi/steampunk ruleset In Her Majesty's Name published by Osprey. I picked these up last year, but due to a variety of circumstances, I was never able to really get into the game. I throughly enjoyed the discussion on M&M, which included talk about the game mechanics, background and expansions (Heroes, Villains and Fiends & Sleeping Dragon, Rising Sun). A very thorough analysis of the game, and one that re-kindled my interest in it. I am looking forward to giving these a go, and add them to my gaming rotation.

In addition, I have stumbled across several quite good podcasts out there for fans of Bolt Action.

Bolt Action Radio and the LRDG
These are two separate podcasts - the BAR is hosted by gamers in the US, while the LRDG is an Australian production - but I am listing them together because (a) they are both hosted on BoltAction.Net, (b) they are rather similar in their approach, and (c) they often cross-reference each other, so that listening to one without the other is not as beneficial. I enjoy both of these quite a bit.  The hosts are engaging, and seem like real characters that I'd love to sit and have a game and a beer with.

They are very much nuts-and-bolts type podcasts, that often digress into long discussions of very specific game mechanics, in addition to the theory of list building. One of the most helpful parts, to me, is when the cast takes an army list and then discusses the pros and cons.

The last episode of the LRDG was different from the regular format, in that it focused on one specific faction (the Hungarians) for Bolt Action. The discussion begin with the history of Hungary's participation in the war, before moving on to a detailed look at the Hungarian army book choices. I really enjoyed this episode - the mixing of history and gaming was brilliant!

One very important caveat: The language used is at times not safe for younger audiences. This is a shame, because I am trying to interest the kids in other miniatures game and expand their gaming horizons. I sometimes listen to podcasts with the kids in the car, and I cannot do that with the BAR and the LRDG. And, in all honesty, the language does not add to the discussion - it would be just as relevant and interesting without the cuss words. Oh well.

Down Order
I just recently began listening to this podcast, and it is relatively new. I am currently on episode three (of five). Like the BAR and LRDG, this podcast takes a detailed look at mechanics and rules. The hosts do mix in some history as well, but it is usually in the context of explaining why the rules reflect the reality. The sound quality on this podcast is not as good as the others, though I am hoping this improves as I listen to more of the series.

History Podcasts:

The first two are by the same author, and are wonderful background for Saga in particular. I very much enjoyed both of these, and would love to hear more from him. 

Norman Centuries (by Lars Brownworth)
This is one of my favorite podcasts. Brownworth takes us through Norman history, beginning with Rollo's arrival in Normandy, through William the Conquerer, and into Italy and the Levant. What I really enjoyed about this was the conversational tone of the 'cast. Brownworth delivers edcuational content, but in an informal manner. Additionally, I learned a lot about the Norman impact on Sicily - an aspect of their history of which I was totally unaware prior to the podcast.

12 Byzantine Rulers (by Lars Brownworth)
This is Brownworth's first podcast series. It focuses on 12 rulers from different eras of Byzantine history. Brownworth purposefully selected some some of the more obscure emperors, and explains their historical significance and importance.

In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, BBC
This is a very interesting podcast series. Each episode focuses on a completely new topic, though they all follow the same format. Bragg has three guests each week to discuss subject du jour, expressing different sides of whatever that topic may be. The link above takes you to the casts that discuss Dark Ages subjects, since I am currently in Saga mode. There were a couple if particular that appealed to me. The episode on Athelstan was particularly timely, given our re-fight of the historical Battle of Brunanburh at Giga-Bites. And, since I am painting Vikings and have become interested in all aspects of their history and culture, the episode on the Volga Vikings (known in Saga as the Pagan Rus) was very informative. There's also a very good episode on the Sino-Japanese War that sets the stage for Japanese aggression into World War II and talks about the political and cultural backdrop to the Pacific War.

The History of World War II (Ray Harris Jr.)
Speaking of World War II, I have been on the lookout for history podcasts about the war. I came across this one, though to be honest I have not had a chance to listen to any episodes yet. Once I do, I will post an update on what I think.

'Til next time, happy listening!
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