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Saturday, 27 May 2023


 How many times over the years have you rebased your collection - or at least parts of it. It is a right faff for sure, so I try to avoid it where I can. As I don't do competitions this is usually not a problem.

However in recent months I have come to wonder about the way certain rules and 'games' now portray the units for their given period and how the 20mm frontage for most infantry and 25mm for many cavalry has evolved, and is it the best way?.

What started this train of thought was looking at some assorted 28mm Napoleonic models of various nations all on 20mm frontage bases and also quite a few of the often called 'standard' unit(of which in reality there was no such thing) . Seen as units the troops looked too spread out with lots of daylight between each man. Don't think it was like that. Look at the modern Trooping of the Colour or even a decent re-enactment unit. They move about with very little space between each man most of the time.

Now this does not apply in certain periods of course. 17th century chaps needing more room to perform their drills- and it was not because of the baggy  breeches ! . No they mostly moved about  with some little distance between each man so my ECW dudes (or is than now W3K dudes) can stay as they are.

 No this is really about my 18th century collections 7YW and AWI really but with some Indian stuff  as well and maybe some Marlburians.

My first Marlburian unit. The rank and file are on 15mm frontage the 'Command' figures are on 20mm frontage. My reasoning here being that they should be bigger targets in the Grantian style games these will hopefully one day be used in.

 Now I have heard the argument that the larger figures won't fit on  smaller frontage bases so I thought I'd try a few experiments and - so fat I have not found any major problem with infantry. though I am keeping the depth at 20mm per model, as the depth of the figure won't allow much reduction.

Reducing the frontage per figure from 20mm to 15mm obviously reduces the frontage of the whole unit by a quarter as well as making the unit look- dare I say- a little more 'realistic' in its tabletop appearance.

This awful picture nevertheless shows the difference in frontage on even these two tiny units
 actually 2 grenadier companies from different AWI units. Both groups are from the same pack of models Old Glory AWI21. The upper group's frontage is 60mm the lower 45mm.

Another shot showing the two differing frontages side by side. I definitely prefer the closer look..

Now I won't be changing all of my troops. This will only be  chosen units for certain types of game. My 30mm Stadden and Willie AWI collection will stay on 20mm frontage(and shiny!) Shinyloo will stay as it is, as will the nascent 'Shinynine'... but if I ever get around to the Peninsular well that - and India will be a different story.

Friday, 5 May 2023

The Maze of Curiosity and Fascination.

 No not some 'new and innovative',  but the same as all the others in a different box,  Sci-Fant skirmish a like, but rather another train of thought. Yes I know I'm doing thinking again and it is not fashionable in today's wargaming world but then I don't give a hoot for fashion - wel not the wargaming kind anyway.

 No this is more about where my version of the hobby takes me and why. I know that these days- assuming you believe the magazines and some of the FB pages I see that the whole hobby is 'game driven' . We are no longer supposed to talk about which historical period we play in but only about 'which games' we play.

 To me this is terribly narrow. Obviously it is one of the unforeseen side effects of the commercialisation of the hobby. For many it is easier and more convenient to be merely consumers of what is laid before them especially in the hurry up world in which we now live. It is easier to simply take a game and obey the rules rather than take an interest in the historical period in which that game may be set- however loosely.- rather than follow the more tortuous path of historical interest.

What began this particular tortuous path was the arrival of a bundle of old  Journals  of the Society for Army Historical Research bought on ebay. This bundle of rather random copies  were originally published in various years from 1948- 1985 and will be added to the collection of back issues I already have. I made space for them by binning a bundle of old wargames mags- all published after 2000 but I may be binning some more in the near future as they simply often don't contain anything that really interests me any longer. I know how to roll a dice thanks- and reviews - while being useful at the time don't have much of a shelf life. 

These Journals however, are filled with  gold. In the issues I have recently bought, I have so far, found  first hand accounts - in letters and diaries published in the Journals, from the First and Second Sikh Wars, The Napoleonic wars,, the Nepal War and the Indian Mutiny. In addition there are articles on Mercenaries in English service in 1544- and how some of them defrauded Henry VIII of lots of cash, and I have not been through more than half of them so far.

Yes in some of the articles the scholarship is a bit- or even a lot- dated but taking that into account is part of the challenge. The words of chaps who were actually there, of course, never get old and provide information  and scenario ideas that  never get into most  wargames scenario books. This kind of stuff will always be of more interest to me than wading through yet another  set of games driven fluff in a pretty book written by a bloke who values dice rolling over period knowledge. 

Well now perhaps I should put on my metaphorical Tin Hat and duck below the parapet. If I do bin some more magazine I will let you know before they go to the shredder. 

Thursday, 27 April 2023

Just a tiny bit of Shine in all the Matt.

 There has not been a great deal of shine in my life recently, regular readers may have noticed an increased use of matt varnish !

 This is because I have been painting models for my forthcoming book on Wargaming the Anglo- Sikh Wars. Most of my recent posts have shown the slow growth of this collection and it is still growing. More Ghoracharra and more Akhalis currently sit on the painting table in various states of undress.

However a lack of shine was beginning to tell so here are a few shiny Dudes I have managed to finish amongst all the matt.

Shiny Hussars 30mm Stadden. The middle chap is on a Willie horse.

Prince Blucher- wondering what he is doing in the Punjab- or on a desert cloth ! 

 Not sure what Blucher and some British 7th Hussars are doing in the Punjab but there you go.

Everyone needs a little shine every now and again!

 Right back to the Sikh wars and matt varnish! 

Tuesday, 11 April 2023

Elite troops?

 In a short  FB exchange with Martin Gane recently the subject of elite troops was mentioned in passing and the idea was mooted that elite might be a very moveable feast. Indeed one might opine that some troops are only elite some of the time and for different reasons in different wars and campaigns.

Are these British Footguards elite or  the Line troops nest to them? They certainly think so and have proved it numerous times in their history. So how do you deal with their wargames counterparts? 

Of course, if your wargaming is army list  and dice roll driven you may choose to obey the diktat of the 'game designer'  rather than your own researches. This  lightweight approach is something we all do- I do it for periods I only have a passing interest in, such as most of the Ancient world, though even here, actually buying an army according to an army list is not to be done under any circumstances,  especially if I'm paying. I'll read a book or two. So I don't care if your ordinary hoplites are six points each and your  Sacred Band are eight points each  because they are elite. The question for these, and indeed any other supposed elite units throughout history is WHY are they considered elite in the first place?

Discipline and weapons training are two pretty obvious reasons  but of course those two factors don't come close to telling the whole story. If you know your history you can think of plenty of elite units who had such training who sometimes did not come up to the mark for various reasons in individual campaigns or battles. The Gardes Francais at Fontenoy perhaps or  some of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo? Make your own minds up but try to be dispassionate if you can. Are some troops 'automatically' elite? British Footguards - sometimes  but not always by any means.

The Earl of Essex's regiment of foot in the ECW usually performed pretty well up until their capture at Lostwithiel but does that make them elite@ 

Equally time and place have a part to play. Take admittedly a slightly obscure example Earl Brtytnoth's Hearthtroop at the Battle of Malton in 991 . After  Thorkel the Tall's vikings broke the Saxon shieldwall and killed the Earl the Hearthtroop apparently fought on expecting to 'lie in the dust at the feet of our leader' as the Song of Maldon tells us. Now it may not have been quite like that but people of the time believed it was or should have been. Likewise King Harold's Housecarles at Hastings so do we rate these as 'elite'  for other games?

The Iron Brigade in the ACW - does a different hat and coat make you elite ? Even thought it makes you stand out form the crowd. The Brigade does seem to have performed better than some.

Pride of course plays a part- this will feed into unit cohesion and can make the given unit hang on for longer but then there is also 'backs to the wall' syndrome- nowhere to run so we must fight on - Roarke's drift being a good example here.

 Of course so called social class is no automatic granting of elite status , except perhaps in the mind of those 'socially elite' troops. Obvious examples are the Philadelphia Light Horse in the AWI- who apparently would not do outpost and vidette work- as is the role of light horse- because it was beneath them. I also seem to recall a mention of a troop of New York Light Dragoons in the War of 1812 - again  from the 'cream' of New York society who scarpered at almost the first shot at the Battle of Bladensberg - quickly followed by most of the rest of the Americans leaving the  rear guard of US Marines and sailors with their guns to do the bulk of the fighting. Equally the Cumberland Hussars at Waterloo  socially upper crust- off as soon as the guns began.. So so called social class often has nothing to do with  elite troops. 

The Irish Brigade were key to the French victory at Fontenoy. Does that make them elite everywhere else?

There is definitely a case for 'variable morale' on the wargames table- after all how can any general be sure that his troops will perform as expected- he might be sure of some of his units - but what about that lot over there> Arses out of their trousers and filthy from campaigning, or those there, bright and shiny and new - never been shot over. There are historical examples where both types have performed above and beyond and equally examples where both have performed poorly so you take your pick and hope for the best. 

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Sikh and ye shall find.

 Last Saturday saw 4  of our group meet for a game in our new venue in the town of Stanley Co. Durham.

We are still settling in here, but it is going well.

This time I was in the chair and decided to go for another attempt at an Anglo-Sikh War game. Now last time had been a bit of a frost as picking your way through  Black Powder second edition is a decided chore. So we packed it in after a couple of moves and repaired to the bar.

Well this time it was different. No Black Powder- no straining my eyes on the brown print on cream paper. I decided to go with Warfare in the Age of Reason as a base since it is very open ended and the simple mechanisms allow easy period specific amendments which , done with care do not unbalance the game.

This would be a relatively small game with about 300 or a few more  28mm models on the table. So while not a big battle a bit more than a mere skirmish.

 The British had 4  cavalry units  each of 10 models - 2 'wings' of 3rd Light Dragoons and 1 unit each of 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry and 2nd Bengal Irregular cavalry. 4 battalions of Infantry of which HM31st foot at a mere 21 models was the weakest (I didn't get the flank coys finished in time !) 2 Bengal Native Infantry battalions and the Sirmoor Local Battalion - which despite its name are Ghurkhas.. The Brits  were lacking in artillery having only a single gun and crew of the admittedly elite Bengal Horse artillery. 

The Sikh force was slightly the larger but of more mixed quality. Their best troops were their 4 12pdrs which I rated as medium field guns with elite crews in AOR. As for regular infantry they had 2 units  one of 'line' from the Fauj-i-Ain and one Purbeah unit of the Fauj-i-Khas in shakos carrying a French style colour.  The remaining half of the Sikh infantry were irregulars or at best 'semi-regulars. A battalion of Muslim najibs and 3 small  bands of irregulars one of which was Akhalis. . For cavalry the Sikhs had a single unit of regular Dragoons and 3 units of Ghoracharra Irregular cavalry of which the largest was 15 strong the other two 10 models each.

 Most of the models were, of course Old Glory 28mm with a Foundry BNI unit (25th BNI with its unique unique - to the Bengal line- blue facings). The Bengal Horse Artillery are 'Willie'30mm with an Eagle gun. Otherwise aside from a few Redoubt Maratha interlopers making up the numbers in one of the Ghoracharra units and a couple of Studio Miniatures Officers then everyone else on both sides was Old Glory.

 The table  as the action opened. Sikh on the left of the picture
                                    The small fort which anchored their right can just be seen.

 The table was on the small side being just over 6 feet long by about 3and a half feet.. We can go bigger but to do that we have to leave the bar! 

So the action commenced with a spirited British advance-  commanded by Steve who donned Sir Hugh Gough's white fighting coat for the afternoon.. Sikh artillery opened up early, knocking holes in  36th BNI and smaller holes in the 25th. Indeed so bad was the damage to the 36th that they halted disorganised and by the end of the fighting would have lost 30% of their strength..

The Sikh left. In the middle distance 36th BNI are taking a pasting from the Sikh Guns

The Sikh left- their stronger wing- one unit of cavalry has already been pushed back but the guns will give 36BNI many an anxious moment. 

 The British cavalry however moved in swiftly and in two moves of sabre slashing havoc eventually pushed back the Ghoracharra facing them- even 3 BLC doing reasonably well.- Steve's dice rolling was just a tad above average. Both sides were taking losses- the Bengal Horse Artillery doing some counter battery fire at medium range managing to reduce one Sikh gun crew by 2 figures.

HM31st Foot advanced on the Sikh right where the scrub jungle was filled with irregulars. These  skirmishers has proved a minor nuisance The 31st delivered a perfect volley which sent numbers of these pesky fellows scuttling behind the small fort that was the right flank anchor of the Sikh line.

'Those pesky fellows' Sikh Irregulars- some being Rohilla Mercenaries-  in the scrub jungle.

A pensive Steve wonders what to do about those terrible Sikh guns.

The decision came on the Sikh right centre where 25th BNI  went in against the najib battalion. the fight was close and for a move it looked as if the najibs would actually prevail ( 3  sixes  for their defensive volley from Andrew  helped!)but in the end discipline told and the najibs retreated - disorganised taking the   Sikh regular dragoons with them. It was now all over bar the well not shouting but post game discussion.

25th BNI followed by the Sirmoor battalion go in against the Najibs.

The Najibs strivinh manfully against the 25th BNI.

All four of us Steve as Gough and Shaun and Andrew as the Sikh commander as well as me Umpiring had enjoyed this first proper outing for this new collection. AOR had performed well - though I shall have to add a few more 'in-period' tweaks as I paint more units.  The rules were certainly easier to navigate than Black Powder but then over the years I have played many more games of AOR than I have Black Powder so this may be simply a matter of use..

Thanks go to Norman Oyston for the use of the venue  and to Ros for the beef butties and chips. The beer as usual was very drinkable and fun was had by all. 

 Next game should be in April. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Trouble and Strife

You may have noticed gentle readers that I am having more than a little bother with my website and usual email accounts.

 We are working to resolve these issues but it takes time and frankly is a pain in the arse - especially when you can't actually speak to a human but have to  do it all by web chat and email .

 We will bet it sorted  but patience is becoming a rare and splendid thing !  

Might be able to get a bit more writing done though-perhaps even a blog post or two.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Sikh Wars additions.

 I have been beavering away at my Sikh Wars collection of late so here are a few pictures of the results. All of this group are Old Glory 28mm though I have some Studio Miniatures on the painting table which fit pretty well in terms of size though they are a bit more static in style that OG..

 Indeed the only thing in this clutch of pics that is not Old Glory are the flag  finials on the Sikh battalion and the 31st Foot, which comes from Front Ranks. The paper flags are all hand painted by me - though some are repaints of Napoleonic flags downloaded from Warflag. com  which is a useful site for those who are not keen on paying  anything up to a fiver for a pair of paper flags if there is another choice. 

Sikh regular Dragoons. 'Rajman Khas Daragun' 

31st Foot. This unit still needs its Flank Companies

Sikh battalion of the Fauj-I -Ain. The regular army. I will need several more of these plus a bundle of irregulars.

So both sides continue to grow slowly but they do grow. Next up some Ghurkhas for the Brits some Sikh Irregulars and those missing flank companies.