The Man in the High Castle Video Effects Breakdown

I am looking forward to the last season of The Man in the High Castle.

One of the highlights of the series so far has been the way in which the seres makers have created a world different, but eerily similar to our own.

The video effects are quite amazing, and when you see how it was done, you realise how much time and effort went into creating this alternate world.

Here are some more video effects shots from season 2.

And from season 3.

In a previous blog post I discussed the series, which I started watching having “splashed” out on the free trial of Amazon Prime to get some Christmas gifts delivered quickly. Having got Amazon Prime,  I took the opportunity to watch what was then the new Amazon series The Man in the High Castle.

Will it be the end of the worlds as we know it?

The Man in the High Castle Season 4 comes to Amazon Prime this Autumn.

The final season of The Man in the High Castle will be rocked by war and revolution. The Resistance becomes a full-blown rebellion, driven by Juliana Crain’s (Alexa Davalos) visions of a better world. A new Black insurgent movement emerges to fight the forces of Nazism and imperialism. As empires teeter, Chief Inspector Takeshi Kido (Joel De La Fuente) will find himself torn between his duty to his country and the bonds of family. Meanwhile, Reichsmarschall John Smith (Rufus Sewell) will be drawn towards the portal the Nazis have built to another universe, and the tantalizing possibility of stepping through a gateway to the path not taken.

I have enjoyed the first three seasons of The Man in the High Castle and I am looking forward to this final season.

You can get a free trial of Amazon Prime.

El Ministerio del Tiempo

El Ministerio del Tiempo

There is a new series on Netflix which I have been enjoying, called The Ministry of Time (El Ministerio del Tiempo), it is a Spanish series about a government department in Spain responsible for the looking after the “doors of time”.

In the first season there are three main characters.

El Ministerio del Tiempo Team

Amelia Folch is the leader of the protagonist patrol. She is a late 19th century pioneering university student a

Julián Martínez is a trained SAMUR paramedic from 21st century Madrid.

Alonso de Entrerríos is a highly experienced 16th century soldier from Seville,

I do enjoy TV series and films about time travel, even if they do sometimes give me a headache when it comes to paradoxes.
I enjoyed the first season of Timeless which had a similar concept and characters.

Unlike many of the UK and US series, the Ministry of Time does not feature a secret military unit or spy team, these are government bureaucrats who struggle with pay freezes and budget cuts as well as trying to maintain the timeline.

The premise is that in the heart of Madrid is a secret ministry that through doors provides access to the past. These doors cover a range of times and places across Spain. There are also other doors that “rebel” elements have access to and attempt to change the course of history.

The episodes I have seen have covered the Spanish Armada, the Civil War in the 1930s and various other aspects of Spanish history. I do find myself delving into Wikipedia to discover more about Spanish history.

There are some issues that I don’t get. People from the past can travel to the future (the present), however people from the present can only travel to the past and are unable to travel to the future. It would appear that the present is the only future you can travel to.

Another aspect I find troubling is that according to the initial episodes, the time behind each door travels forward at the same speed, so when two days pass in the present, two days pass in the past. Then in another episode they talk about a door which is stuck in a time loop, the day repeats itself. What troubled me was that the team went to that day five times, but never met themselves. If the day resets behind that door, then there was nothing they could do to change the timeline.

Despite the weird time travel problems that arise in a series like this, I do enjoy it.

One aspect of the series that may put you off is that it is in Spanish and is subtitled. I don’t mind this, but I know for some it’s a deal breaker.

From a gaming perspective, there are lots of ideas in the series which could be translated to the tabletop.

The 1919 British Revolution

Across Europe in the early part of the 20th Century many of the nation states were undergoing change or violent revolution. The governments of the time were so concerned about this that resources were diverted to focus on the perceived threat of revolutionaries and paramilitary forces.

The 1917 Russian Revolution eventually led to the Communist USSR as well as a Civil War that raged for years with plenty of intervention by the Western powers.

In Germany following their defeat in 1918 led to the creation of the Weimar Republic that was plagued by political extremism. In addition that time saw both left wing and right wing paramilitaries causing problems for the government.

The capitulation and break up of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire also saw rises in nationalism and revolution.

In Great Britain the government feared a bolshevik uprising and was quick to oppress any potential threat to the established order. One of the biggest areas for concern were the labour movements and trade unions. One strike in Glasgow in 1919 eventually resulted in a street battle between strikers and police, which was so bad, the army was called in.

The “Battle of George Square”, also known as “Bloody Friday” and “Black Friday”, was one of the most intense riots in the history of Glasgow; it took place on Friday, 31 January 1919.

Clashes between the City of Glasgow Police and protesters broke out, prompting the War Cabinet to make soldiers available to the civil power, to prevent the violence from escalating.

Medium Mark C tanks and soldiers at the Glasgow Cattle Market in the Gallowgate

With troops and tanks on the streets of Glasgow, peace was eventually restored, but there were concerns that some of the soldiers might go over to the side of the rioters, could that have been the spark that started a British Revolution?

The fear of the soldiers siding with the protestors was so much that the War Department didn’t want any Glaswegian troops sent to quell the violence, incase they changed sides. Though reports later implied that English troops were sent, more recent research has indicated that it was Scottish troops that were sent to Glasgow. However what if English troops were sent and the situation rather than be defused, escalated into a more violent conflict. Would the conflict bring in local paramilitary forces, some fighting for the establishment and some fighting for change? Another potential spark for a British Revolution?

British army tank in Dublin

In future blog posts I want to have a look at potential battles in the 1919 British Revolution and the forces involved.

Somerset Pillbox

Went for a walk along Sand Bay (near to Weston super Mare). I find it interesting that there is a pillbox on the beach, as you wouldn’t have thought that this coastline was under threat of German invasion back in 1940.

Somerset Pillbox

However doing some research about the pillbox, I came to realise that the British in 1940 did believe that invasion may come from the South West.

The Taunton Stop Line was a defensive line in south west England. It was designed “to stop an enemy’s advance from the west and in particular a rapid advance supported by armoured fighting vehicles (up to the size of a German medium tank) which may have broken through the forward defences.

The Taunton Stop Line ran north-south for nearly 50 miles through Somerset, Dorset and Devon, roughly from Axminster to Chard along the River Axe, then along the Great Western Railway to Ilminster, the railway and Chard Canal to Taunton, the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal to Bridgwater, and the River Parrett to the coast near Highbridge.

A beach battery at Portished, was built to protect the entrance to Avonmouth Docks. It was the first such installation to be become operational in the area, the battery containing two 6″ guns. Similarily the Severn Fixed Defences were designed to protect the Bristol Channel with batteries established at Brian Down and on Steep Holm and Flat Holm.

In October 1940 it was announced that the Severn Fixed Defences, a string of gun batteries, designed to protect the mouth of the Severn, would be established at Brean Down, on both Steep and Flat Holm, and on the Glamorgan coast at Lavernock Point.

Just like Brean Down further south along the coast, weapons were tested at Sand Point (next to Sand Bay) during the Second World War. Some were so strange that they were never seen after their initial trials.

Somerset Pillbox

With the release of the Bolt Action Sealion Campaign book it got me thinking about all the possibilities of a German invasion of Somerset… okay probably would have been impossible, but even so….

Full circle

My first “experience” of wargaming was back in the 1970s with those bendy and flexible Airfix and Matchbox model soldiers and using Britain’s matchstick firing weapons.

One of my favourite toys and probably the thing that got me into gaming was the 1:32nd Matchbox Counter Attack Playset.

Matchbox Counter Attack

Combining Americans and Germans, with an M8 Greyhound, air pump weapons and an incredible building that you could knock down and put back together. It was an incredible toy that I really loved playing with.

There were of course other models you could buy and I remember having some, but aspired to buy some of those Airfix plastic 1:32 models, such as the Cromwell as well as other Matchbox figures like these Commandos.

Matchbox Commandos

I did move onto more “serious” gaming using Airfix Napoleonics. Then I started to paint them, but like a lot of gamers back then, realised the flexibility of the plastic meant that the paint would come off quite easily during games. The magazines of the time (we didn’t have the web back then) had articles about painting the bare plastic with PVA (white glue) and after painting use a range of varnishing techniques (heavy gloss varnish followed by a matt varnish) to protect the paintwork even further. The reality was that I remember discussing with friends what we really wanted were plastic soldiers made out of hard plastic., like that was ever going to happen…

Lets fast forward to last week…

I usually quite enjoy the weekly updates on the Flames of War website. Never quite sure why they feel the need to save all their updates for Thursday, why can’t they post them as and when they’re done. The main result of this is I go the website once a week rather than more regularly.

So what’s the connection?

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic. I had to check twice, was Battlefront really going to release flexible plastic toy soldiers.

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic.

Hmmm.

The articles talks about the advantages of this *new* material compared to metal, resin and hard plastic.

The new figures are made of a flexible ABS plastic, and combine most of the good points of the other materials.

Like with hard plastic, the casting process involves injecting the plastic into a rigid mould. The moulds themselves are not machined in the same way, but cast – it’s faster and cheaper. Unlike the hard plastic, the material itself is slightly flexible after it cures, so small undercuts are possible – not as much as with metal or resin in a soft mould, but more than with hard plastic.

They also make the point…

The tough new plastic is almost unbreakable – you could drop a rulebook on them and they will bounce straight back.

Guessing dropping rulebooks on them wouldn’t do much for the paintwork. However that would be the same for any model regardless of what material it was made from.

There must be very good reasons why Battlefront are going down this road and these are outlined in the article.

The biggest benefit is the cost – we can produce flexible plastic figures almost 40% cheaper than metal equivalent, and this will be reflected in the price, which is surely good news for everyone!

Cheaper models are always nice, but cost is just one factor amongst many when it comes to choosing models to wargame with. Personally I think it’s a backward retro step, time to ensure I have enough metal models in the cupboard. I don’t mind paying the extra.

Back to the 1970s here we come….

The Man in the High Castle

maninthehighcastlemap

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.

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.