The Man in the High Castle


Having “splashed” out on the free trial of Amazon Prime to get some Christmas gifts delivered quickly I took the opportunity to watch the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle.

This series based on the book of the same name, is set in a universe where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan defeated the allies and occupied the United States of America dividing it in to two, the Greater Nazi Reich covers the Eastern half of the United States, the Japanese Pacific States is on the Western seaboard. In between these two occupied areas is a neutral zone, which acts as a buffer between the two superpowers.

In many ways very little has changed in this neutral zone, there are still US propaganda posters on the walls of buildings.

The Man in the High Castle Posters

It also a place where those wanted and on the run can hide. However it is also a lawless place where anyone can pretend to be a lawmaker.

The series is set in 1962, however feels much more like the 1950s, suggesting a cultural stagnation that would have occurred under totalitarian occupation.

The series has a range of opportunities for gaming, in the main skirmish gaming between small forces of regular and irregular squads.

As the American resistance tries to attack a convoy of occupying soldiers in an ambush, the regular forces fight back and try to escape the ambush.

A smuggling operation by the Mafia in New York (or the Yakuza in San Francisco) is busted by the local police supported by regular troops.

There is a cold war between the Germans and the Japanese and there could be border skirmishes between regular forces in the rocky mountains of the neutral zone.

A self-proclaimed sheriff and his deputies in the neutral zone attempt to raid a fortified farm.

Very little information is provided on the military forces, we see light vehicles, but no armour. The Germans have “rocket” planes and supersonic airliners, but not much else is seen in terms of hardware.

The Man in the High Castle

We can assume that there ballistic rockets and it is mentioned that Germany has the atomic bomb, characters in the series talk about how Washington DC was destroyed by a nuclear weapon. One potential scenario could be a skirmish between different forces in the radioactive ruins of Washington DC.

If you have Amazon Prime then I would suggest you check out the series. Having said that the first episode is available for free, so you can see that without any commitment.

There is even a 30 day free trial and you could use them to check out the ten episodes. I am certainly looking forward to the second series, which is due to be released in 2016 (this may mean that I actually take out an Amazon Prime subscription).

Gaming Revolution

Revolution TV Series

No not a revolution in gaming, this is a blog post about the television series called Revolution.

Revolution TV Series

Revolution is a series in which all the power stops working, an event which became known as the Blackout. The basic premise behind the series is that there is no electricity, there are no combustion engines, however steam engines work as does gunpowder and automatic weapons.

In some respects it mirrors many of the ideas in the Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling, though in that series of books, as well as no electricity, there is no steam engines and gunpowder just fizzles. As a result that world reverts to a feudal society with a medievalistic level of technology. Revolution is similar, but different as there are assault rifles and steam powered vehicles. In addition the way in which electricity and power has stopped working, means in some instances it will work, so you can for some scenarios have vehicles or even helicopters.

Revolution TV Series

There is a lot of ideas and inspiration for gaming from the two series that were broadcast and unfortunately like a lot of other American series, it was cancelled before it had the chance for a full run.

The action sequences in the episodes really provide many of the ideas for scenarios for games. We have bandits armed with a mish-mash of weapons attacking fortified towns. Armed militia from different nation states fight pitched battles or border skirmishes with a limited number of guns, but everyone has a sword and some are armed with crossbows. You could have raiding parties against barricaded farmhouses, or attacks on a steam train.

Revolution TV Series

I can really see how games in the Revolution universe would work using the mechanics I outlined for my Tally Ho! game. The heroes and villains of the series appear to be able to do so much more than the miltia, bandits and other groups in the battles they fight.

Get Revolution Series 1 at Amazon or on iTunes.

Get Revolution Series 2 at Amazon or on iTunes.

Terminator 2 in 60 Seconds

What camera should I buy?

On lots of gaming forums people often ask about which camera they should get for taking photographs of their painted miniatures.

My answer is quite simple, I would buy a cheap second hand Digital SLR. An old Canon Rebel (EOS 400D or 300D) would certainly suffice and can be picked up quite cheaply.

I have taken thousands of photographs of miniatures at home and at shows. The flexibility and ease of use that a DSLR brings makes it much easier to take decent, in focus and well lit photographs of your miniatures.

Imperial Guard Rapier

You will read a lot on forums and the like about the “importance” of macro when taking photographs of miniatures. That’s very much a myth. The key is having a high f stop, in other words the aperture is very small, as a result you need to keep the shutter open for longer. This is why you need a camera with full manual control such as an DSLR. It’s also the reason why you will need to use a tripod. With a standard 400 ISO (speed of the “film) you may find that the shutter is open for a couple of seconds, so hand holding the camera just isn’t an option. You could increase the ISO, but I have found with high ISOs on the low end DSLRs you do get a lot of “noise” and a grainy picture.

Lighting is just as important and wherever possible avoid using the built-in flash as this will wash out the colours of your beautiful paintjob. Too little light and you will find that the resulting images may be too dark or too noisy. In the main I now use the “daylight” work lamp I have for painting, but I also try and use natural daylight too. More on camera settings.

So what do you use to take photographs of your models?

Flames of War British Sherman Tanks

In a future blog post I will talk about setting the scene.

Kobblestone Buildings

Kobblestones Buildings

I really do quite like these buildings from Kobblestone Miniatures. Their website talks about using them for World War Two, I am not sure if they aren’t a little too “fantasy”, but then again a lot of European villages and towns were medieval in their centres, it wasn’t until the Allies and the Germans bombed and shelled them to pieces that they were rebuilt in a “modern” style. This photograph does show the potential.

Kobblestone Buildings World War Two Diorama

What do you think?

I think the only thing that is stopping me, is a) I usually play World War Two in 15mm, b) by the time you have bought an entire building, they are not that cheap. Building a town like in the photographs would cost a fair bit of cash, c) they are based in Canada, so the prices would also incur import duty and VAT if I sent off for any.