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Welcome to Big Andy's Blog.

Hello this is my first attempt at a Blog. Hope you enjoy my ramblings. Andy

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Victorian Steel -A review.

By Gum -Another review! Will Wonders never cease.!!
 Now as it happens I've had an interest in Colonila warfare almost since the beginning of my wargaming- indeed the first set of rules I EVER  wrote for myself were for the Indian Mutiny- that would be around 1972 when all the troops were Airfix conversions and nearly everything else was made from Cornflake packets.  Well thanks Goodness we have moved on .
 Now my library of books on various British Colonial Campaigns is pretty exstensive and contains a goodly number of comtemporay sources but I've always had a bit of a problem with Colonial games- somehow they never quite "feel" right.
Blue Moon Fuzzy- Wuzzies- Hadendowdah Tribesmen

So Gentle Reader when a copy of "Victorian Steel- Wargames Rules for the Colonial Era" arrived in the post I was somewhat intriguged.
 First the introductions, these rulesc are by Dave Tuck of the Grimsby club- and he knows his stuff. If you need proof see his articles in MW on the Boxer Risings in China.
These rules ostensibly cover the whole Victorian  Colonial era   but the accent seems to be on sizable encounters so I'm not sure if these rules would quite fit say the various Cape Frontier Wars in Southern Africa or the Maori Wars in New Zealand which were rather dominated by smaller individual actions
 However  they will fit admirably into the Sikh Wars  Indian Mutiny, The Sudan Campaigns  The Zulu War various NW Frontier Campaigns ,French Conquest of Algeria  The Boxer Risings  and even Spanish American War without too much bother.Oh and of course I have binloads of tasty troops in both 28 mm and 15mm for  many of these campaigns ...
The mechanics are simple- but not simplistic  even the mathematically challenged shouldn't have a problem here  Representation is basically 1 stand = 1 Company / Troop . for regulars or a similar sized body of around 100 men for the Tribal forces A single stand  can have as many or as few figures as you like and basing is not to the point of the game as long as both sides use a commonly agreed and understood system. The Rules say a 3 inch square base "if Starting from scratch" (and using 25/28mm) but make it clear that this is not mandatory.
 I'm tempted to use these for the Sudan in 15mm
 My only negative here is a personal and historical one and a quibble with the organisational nomenclature not with the rules .
 Apparently 4 or 8 or 12 "companies" make up a "Brigade "- So what happened to "Battalion " or indeed "Regiment" for the regular forces . Is accurate period language too difficult or complicated for today's Wargamers?
Old Glory 25/8mm British Command group. I'd use these to command a Battalion of  several companies.

 For much of the period a British Battalion would have 8 companies so 4 companies is technically a "wing"  and yes such a formation could and did fight  independently- though usually as part of a larger formation  for a distinct operation
 A cavalry regiment would usually have 2-3 squadrons each with  2-3 troops  and again Squadrons could be and were used singly. In a sense the rules have missed out the intermediate command level  but unless you knew this and actually care   then it won;t affect the "mere gaming" and its no big deal to build it into your scenarios  in the way you organise the troops for the game.
 So in conclusion a fine effort and definitely recommended for those chaps who fancy a bash at the Colonial ere

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Culinary Delights.

There are other things in life besides Wargaming and selling soldiers to chaps across the globe- this last week for instance its been Spain Canada, Finland and the Russian Federation  ,Oh and Italy  but there are times when Carole and I get sick of the little lead gits and hie ourselves off to  somewhere else. Usually our favourite Watering hole.
 The Causey Arch Inn.
 This is a fine hostelry- not as pretentious as some I've frequented-  those that  call themselves "Gatropubs"  and while the food may I say only may be OK the   air of "Pretentious? Moi?"  of the staff and some Clientele is not .

 So to the Causey Arch Inn-  Splendid place  with a strong farming based set of regulars. Indeed the place is owned by a farming family so all the produce is farm assured- even the game. On those occasions when Venison is available I can tell you within 3 or 4 blokes who shot it and where it came from.
 Now don't get me wrong here the Causey Arch is  not simply a farmers  pub- the Food is cracking too but the Chef- Michael  has managed an unpretentious "Bistro style "of cooking and presentation that Carole and I love. . This is more than "pub-grub"  but avoids the baggage of the "Gastropub" . Equally if you want simple food the standard menu- Steaks , Burgers Chicken and a veggie option amongst others  are all there ,freshly prepared. But Keep and eye on the Specials board- changed weekly -for here often lies treasure. In the recent past Carole and I have had a most superb Risotto, some excellent Salmon and a Lamb stew of pure quality. To say nothing of  sundry Steaks and Bangers and Mash(sauages from the Farm of course) and a cracking lasagna that have passed my lips. Real ale is also there for those of us with a palate- Usually 3 different local brews all of exceeding quaffability
 Check out the website

I've never so- far sampled the live music  but chaps who have love it . Me I go there for the Beer the Food and the laughs
 Highly reccomended.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Phew!!! That's that lot done ... Now for ....

 So  with the exception of Salute thats the hardest wekend of the year done- not the miost lucrative but the hardest graft- setting up and pulling down twice in a weekend with  several hours sitting in a van- not to mention getting up  at dfist sparrow -fart- AFTER  you've done one show.- Well you just notice you've done it is all.
 So to the shows themselves- Border Reiver-  footfall definitely down on last year but then there were some communication issues which  I (the sponsor) will have to take up with the organisers.- Around half a dozen phone calls on the Saturday morning- after I'd left obviously - asking where  the show was ! - Including one that got my wife out of the shower! . There were  Border Reiver website issues also  again something I'll have to take up with the organisers .
 Quality of games- mixed to say the least with most of the players intent on playing and nothing that really piqued my interest- though the 54mm medieval thingy did stand ouit a bit  above the rest and the "operational" WW1  which was a bit clever but neither really my thing .
 the show could have done with another 3 or so games- there was plenty of room  but I suspect that finding chaps willing to do it is getting tough. as for example I saw neither Durham nor the IWG there . Yet Falkirk  had made it ... Odd that ....  Indeed only 7 games were listed- by club not by game .
So Sunday and Partixan a very different ball game- but still with issues. Once again the organisers had been royally shafted by the venue owners- who so obviously simply don't give a toss- and it shows..Due to the previous night "Indian Wedding"  several dozen square meteres of staging remind in the main hall  . this meant that  most of that space was unusable and the traders and games had to be crowded into the remaining space. Claustrophobia became an issue. Arses bending ove tables became an issue. Simply  moving about between tables was sometimes an issue.
 The normally smooth catering at this event was a complete joke. Lunch- forgert it - assuming you could get there  there were no sandwiches! Even the obligatory morning bacon buttie was decidely undefilled and flaccid(and overpriced) especially when compared to the splendid creations of the Buttie van at Gatehead!.(or indeed Luch at Gateshead  from the venue cafeteria- well above the norm for a Wargame show  possibly the best this yesr)
 However on the up side- the games were as always splendid looking with chaps wanting to talk to you about them- not that I had much time as I and the team were well busy ! knocking out gear to the chaps. So despite the crowding and other issues a fine time had by all .

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Pretty 15mm Moderns .

 I Have this morning received a package from Jez at Shakespear studios-  a fine painting service this  containing  painted examples of the latest 3 packs of my Firfore15mm range
  t So we have the 2 packs of Falklands war special forces- British and Argentinian and a command group for the Rhodesian Troopies.
The Falklands Brits will of course do for 1980s cold war scenarios too - which may be on the cards since I've just acquired a copy of Cold War Commander- nice looking ruleset- first impressions are that it may be a tad "gamey"("organisations "are based around the points system rather than the actuality or instance  )  for my taste but it does contain some neat little ideas. and may flow better in larger games than say  tank wreak or even Combined Arms- watch this space.
 However back to the plot  here without further comment are the pics of the new figures- all available from the OGUK website.
I'm talking to Him over there !

British  Special forces Falklands War

Argentinian "Buzo Tactico- or cdo 601 or 602

Command for the two packs of Rhodesian troopies already released.
I'll have packs of all of these plus the rest of the fireforce range at  Border Reiver this Saturday and Partizan on Sunday.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Busy weekend coming up ....

So here I sit on a Monday morning - grabbing a few minutes "blogging off"  before pul;ing some more customer orders and then off to cast some Hawker Hunters and some Argie Special forces.
 Expecting a delivery this coming Thursday- from the USA so  will be doijng a weeks work on about a day and a half - SOP then. no change there..
All working up to the coming weekend with 2 shows  on succeeding days
 First Border Reiver in Gateshead- or "Geetsheid"  if you prefer the local phonetic pronunciation . Will have at least some NEW STUFF for this- aforementioned Argies and British Special forces for the Falklands range. Command for the Rhodesians and the Hunter of course but also hopefully some new Blue Moon stuff- Napoleonic RHA for a start as well as other Horse Artillery crews - if the Yanks gotr them in the shipment in time - won't know until I open it as its a bit last minute and maybe some more Command Decision  again if it was ready- Scorpion. Scimitar and Sabre  and possibly other stuff too - it will be a surprise opening the boxes when UPS deliver on thrusday. There will of course be "ordinary" stock too- after all its a 7 box shipment
 Then after Border Reiver  we are off at  an ungodly hour  of a Sunday morning (which Idiot said Sunday was a day of Rest???) to kelham Hall - this time not hopefully in a bloody Circus tent -  for the Other Partizan.
 Assuming I have any of the new stuff left it will be at Kelham Hall too  as well as all the stuff we normally take to shows
 Oh BTW we no longer have room in the van for the Sash and Saber 40mm - they've been crowded out by Blue Moon  15mm so if you want SAand S 40mm please pre- order for shows. You can of course still get them by normal mail or web- order methods  as you can with any of the kit we don't normally bring to shows .

 See you at the weekend.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Hawker Hunter

 Well I managed it at last.  I finally got my 1/100th scale Hawker Hunter in production and available.
 So I'm just a bit chuffed.
As a mainstay of the RAF during the late 1950- early 60s the Hunter  became an iconic machine. Under RAF auspices Hunters served in Aden in a ground attack role.
 However it was as an export model that the Hunter served in numerous  airforeces worlwide and saw considerable combat scoring Victories against such diverse aircraft as F-86 Sabre  MirageIII and A4 Skyhawk. Fighting in the Jordanian, Iraqi  Rhodesian and Indian Air forces amongst many others.

 These tow pictures show my first Hunter in Rhodesian Air fore colours. No1 Sqn used Hunters throughtout the bush War of the 70s. Usually in the ground attack role though they were  also used for "overwatch" missions on externals in case  Tanzanian or Mozambique Migs  wanted to play- but they never did.
 I hope to add more jets to this range  all to 1/100th scale - to match the ground troops. Next up should be a Pucara for the Falklands war (not strictly a jet) then hopefully A-4  Mig 17  and F-86 and just maybe a Vampire  but we'll see what occours .....

Thursday, 28 August 2014

IZAL fails to completely wipe

The 23rd of August dawn bright and clear- and, within an hour its honking it down- must be a Bank Holiday weekend ...
 A comparitively  huge number of T.W.A.T.S, gather at our regular pub - well huge for us almost double the normal turnout a tatal of 8   fellas turned out for a modern game
 All the Usual suspects I-man  Tom ,Farmer  Dave ,Andrew the Tekkie, Floating Jeff and your gentle Author  but not only this stalwart band but 3 more- Steve - who had been with us for the Durham game. Darren- a friend of Tom's and Shaun - new to us but not new to the Hobby.
 The scene was set of an exercise in Asymetric Warfare in other words a modern game with a few twists and turns.To get us away from the old samey-gamey stuff , There would be 5 players and 2 Umpires for this one as the set up was a tad unusual to say the least.
 As always for our modern 15mm games  the basic rules were "Combined Arms " wwith additions from CPQ and a few local amendments to suit some of the more "irregular" elements of the forces engaged. .
Briefings for the 5 players follow.

Colonel Haidar iffa Khan
 3rd Armoured Infantry Bn
 Harraqui Defense Force .
 Govenor of Akharsi Province.

The Zealots are upon us.! This is a problem as they will certainly shoot you if they catch you. Not only that they will make Barry Manilow and Karl Largerfeldt illegal. This is not to be tolerated  by a man of style and breeding such as yourself!!!
 Fortunately you have the help of some British Royal Marines who may be rough trade but are very competent!
You must hold the town of Akharsibad and if possible  gain the Border crossing to stop IZAL forces joining the Tribesmen in the Marches – who  will cause trouble if they can . Their Mortars shell the town periodically .
 They seem to be based around the Old Turkish Fort   on the banks of the great Sewah river.
 Your troops

Mechanised Infantry Battalion.
 Battalion HQ with
I Command Stand
1BMP toc
 1 Shilka SPAA
2 infantry Companies each with
1 Command Infantry Stand
1 Weapons Stand
1 Infantry stand
3 BMP2
Attached Tank Company from 6th Tank Battalion
3 T-72

You have been told to expect reinforcement in the shape of the rest of the 6th Tank Battalion Ciommanded by your distant cousin Gurdana Khan  who as is well known works for the CIA and wants your job. If he should fall in the coming battle...... but you take the credit ..... 

Colonel Gurdana Khan
 OC 6th Tank Battalion
 Harraqui Defense Force.

As a distant cousin of that effete fool Haidar you know you will make a better job of ruler   of Akharsi Province than he does.  He puts it about that you work for the CIA. This is rubbish just because you know a man at the Embassy in  Al – Kahol who gets you Hershey bars and Tommy Hilfiger shirts ...and just because you are friendly with him and talk to him ....
IZAL are coming  they are not to be trusted- unless you can cut a deal- your distant cousin Farrouq Kemal is Govenor of Firket he has contacts with them  but can you trust him ?
 Your troops
 Tank Battalion with
 Trained Morale 7
Battalion HQ company
1 Command T-72
1 T-72

2 Tank Companies each with
1Command T-72
2 T-72
 The 3rd company of the battalion is at present under command of Haidar Khan – once you arrive at Akharsibad you can take back control of this unit.
You would like Haidars Job- if he were to fall in the coming battle  with IZAL then all will be well  but if IZAL look like winning .....

-The American spelling of defence is of course deliberate .... 
Earkly in the game- British WMIKS with Apache overwatch move North through "friendly" Harraqui  T-72s
Colonel Farruq Kemal
Commander Firket District and Border Crossing.

Currently you are making a fortune taking Bribes  from sundry fellows wha want to have no trouble with customs at the Border.
You wish this happy state of affairs to continue.
 However there is a problem
 Your distant cousin Mustapha Narsul is just over the border with a force of IZAL fighters who would love to wipe you up. You have therefore “promised” that you will take your forces over to “The cause of God”  once IZAL nears the town .

 Your command consists of
Infantry Battalion 19th Reserve Infantry Division
 Trained Morale 7.
Bttn HQ with
1 infantry Command Stand
Weapons Company with
1 81mm Mortar stand.
1 weapons stand.
2 infantry Companies each with
2 infantry stands.
These troops may occupy any of the trenches and bunkers on the table outside the town of Al-Kahol.

Firket  Garrison
Trained Morale 7
 1 command Stand
 1 Radio Car.
AA platoon with
Garrison Infantry company with
2 Infantry stands
Garrison Weapons company with
1 weapons stand
1 HMG  stand
ATGW company with

Your primary concern- indeed ONLY concern is to keep your job  as you have 2 wives and a Swiss Bank account to worry about. You don’t care who rules Harraq as long as you are making a shekel or 6 .
 You win if you are still in control of Firket and the Bridge and border crossing. 

IXAL forces backe by "rebel" Harraqui boder troops these are the positions they would hold more or less throughout the game.

Mustapha Narsul
 Commander 72 Virgins Martyrs Brigade
 IZAl Forces.

God is Great . The Time has come!
 You have received sufficient Reinforcements to attack the Infidels and destroy them . You already have small forces in the area of Akharsibad- which will be your new Capital and the garrison Commander of Firket one Farruq Kemal a distant cousin has promised to bring his forces over to you . You have managed- without his knowledge to infiltrate a small force into Firket but you will need Kemals troops  for the next Stage- this does not mean that you need Kemal. Though his troops seems to be Loyal to him so care may be needed.
 You must secure the Bridge over the Little Sewah river so that your invasion can succeed it is likely to be guarded by the troops of Colonel Kemal.
 Your Troops.
 With you on the Northern Border.
Command  element
 1 Command Infantry Stand
1 car.
Motor cycle Recon group with
 3 Recon  Motor Cycle stands
1 Recon  motor cycle weapons stand
 Veteran Morale 8
 All self – ordering
Fist of Islam Tank company
Trained Morale 7
 1 command T-55
3x T-55
 Hammer of God Artillery Company
 Trained Morale 7
1command stand
 1 107mm RCL
1 107mm MLR
1 Light truck with SNEB rocket pod.
 1 truck
 1 HMG stand
1 HAAMG  stand.
 Islam’s  Scorpions
Mechanised assault  Group
 1 Command HMG truck
1 HMG truck
1 HAAMG truck
Foriegn Jihadis
 Green Morale 9 (daft sods)
1 Inf Command Stands
5 Infantry stands
 Note 2 fig stands 2nd hit destroys

In Firket.
Veteran Morale 8
 2 recon Infantry Stands  (SO)

In the Marshes  on the banks of the Great  Sewah River
Tribal Militia
 Green Morale 7
 1 command Infantry Stand
2 weapons stands
 2 Infantry Stands
4 81 mm Mortar stands

 The more territory you hold by game end the Greater your Victory. The more of the enemies troops to come over to you the greater your Victory.  
 All units increase Morale by 1 point when you are attached to that unit (in case you shoot them)

 Rules note- SO = self ordering . These small units are quck to react to new events BUT have little staying power.
Harraqui Troops in the town of FIRKET on the border with Rh'agheidistan. These troops simply stayed where they were s town Garriosn .

United Nations Force for Active Response to Terrorism.
 Lt- Col  Myles Overlaap DSO
69 Cdo  Royal Marines .

 It seems likely that IZAl (Islamist Zealots Alliance) will attempt a coup in Harraq. Your task is to bolster the Loyal Harraqui forces and see that they do not crumble against what has so far proven to be a vicious and cunning enemy force.
 You should secure the town of Akharsibad and  co-operate  with the commander of  3rd Harraqui  Armoured Infantry Battalion, Col. Haidar Ifa Khan who has so far proven Loyal to the New Regieme.
 On the way to Akharsibad  are the rest of the 6th Tank Battalion  under Colonel Gurdana Khan- who may or may not be working for the CIA .
Own Troops.
Elite Morale 10
HQ 69 Cdo Royal Marines Battle Group
1Command stand
1 BV10 Viking TOC .
Support coy with
1Command Infantry stand
2 Recon sniper stands (SO)
2 81mm Mortar stands
2 Milan Stands.
1 GPMG stand
1Quad Bike and Trailer
1 Pinzgauer truck
1 landrover
2 companies each with
 1 command Infantry stand
2 infantry stands.
Any stand from the Support company
may be attached to either of the infantry companies
Manovre Support group.
1 command WMIK

You should mount a recon to the Firket Bridge and town of Firket as the Garrison there seems to be in a shaky condition  with the threat of Invasion from IZAL forces from the T’Urdistan province of Rh’agheidistan but you  MAY NOT commence Combat operations unless fired upon .
 U.N.F.A.R.T.  Rules of Engagement do not allow for the commencement of Hostilities by UN forces but of course troop may defend themselves.
More troop in the shape of 1 armoured Infantry company – 2QM and HQ and 1 sabre Sqn 1PROHH are en route but may not arrive in time .
Force build up - Akharsibad at the top of the picture. Despite the British presence the Harraqui defense force were unwilling to actually figt IZAL.

It is most important that any territory lost to IZAL should be recovered by Harraqi forces rather than the UN.Your primary task is Intelligence and Support.
 You also have on call
1 AH64 Apache
And a Chinook
The Chinook can carry up to 3 stands of troops
 but care must be used IZAL have a lot of light AA/ HMG  and possibly Stinger Missiles. If a helicopter is shot down- you lose-  Career over Bowler hat ..... no mention in the Birthday Honours ...

The UN(British force) are in normal gaming terms hamstrung by thier Rules of Engagement. They simply may not fire first.Despite that they are by far the strongest single force
 As you can see from the Briefings it was quite possible for players from different sides to both win at once ..... 
 As Umpires Andrew and I cecided to introduce a "Negotiation phase"  between moves where no actual combat had taken place .No negotiations could take place without the presence of an Umpire.  With  better communications and  Intelligence assets  the British would recieve a distilled version of any negotiations where they themselves were not present from the Umpires - some of this may even be the truth .
 Very quickly the game developed into a cross between a game of   Diplomacy and Carry on up the Khyber
 Farruq- Tom retired to his hardernd communications bunker and stayed there once the Initial negotiations with Mustapha- Jeff had taken place- Money Changed Hands- Farrouq's Swiss accounts swelled.

 IZAL  advsance their forces to the  hill line across the centre of the table on its east -West axis  accompanies by Tom's  BDRM AT company and some other heavy weapons. And there they stayed.
 However fighting was opened by  Jeff Tribal Militia in the  Green Zone - running  most of the Eastern leangth of the table  . A flurry of ill- aimed 81 mm Mortar bombs landed amognst the British forces.
 Cries of "FOOK ME"
 were heard from the lads but no serious damage was done thanks to osprey  body armour (  in game terms first hits on any stand  so equipped are ignored for casualty purposes )
Next turn the Militia mortarmen bwegan to bug out but CYMBELINE morat radar caught them and return fire destroyed 2 of their 4 tubes .(wa it significant that Darren was ex- Royal Artillery and knew how to work CYMBELINE???)
 Izal also tried to rocket the road  ad Haidar moved out of Akharsi but to no avail- it was spweculative indirect fire  so needed 1 on a D10 to cause a hit  and it didn't even with a 12 tube launcher.
 Then it all went quiet .
 Rogues began a- plotting .
The British force called in an Apache on overwatch . For reasons best known to themselves Farruq Kemamal's BDRM SA-9  hten opened fire on it   and missed. Permission was sought to return fire and a single Hellfire was launched - Exit 1 BDRM in a pall of oily smoke
 Then it went quiet again ....
 More plotting
 It was soon apparent that the 3 out of 4 Arab players were up for having a go at the British but frankly didn't have the bottle- nor did they trust each other enough to start a war in the certainty of getting the rest to join in
 Gurdana Khan(Shaun)  was a bit more circumspect  as his tanks advanced  towards the hill line he came under fire from the T-55's and BDRM AT  to which he replied Range was longish . Neither side scored any hits.
Meanwhile Haidar Khan (Dave) was trying to get the British to open fire on the IZAL but since IZAL had not fired at them it wasn't going to happen.
 Yet more plotting - the "Confernce of Arab Brotherhood " !!
  It did seem that there was a considered opinion  amongst the Arab players that the British should be given a kicking- though each of the "Brotherhood" thought someone else should actually start the ball rolling !
 Nevertheless Tom and Jeff thought they'd have a little bash  so they  decided to Rocket the town of Akharsibad and launch ATGW  at the slowly moving British Challengers- who had just arrived on the table .
 As British Infantry moved to occupy the govenors palce in Akharsibad  107mm rockets exploded about them . Ospey however proved it worth again causing no more than minor wounds and cries of FOOK!
 Equally ATGW streaked from the treeline to scratch the paint of a couple of Challengers-  exit another BRDM in a pall of slightly less oily smoke as a 120mm tank round found it mark .
 Meanwhile the Tribal Militia had been active and a sudden burst of AK and RPG fire erupted from the Tree line near the British transport park  British 50 cals on WMIKS replied  and later blood trails were seem  but no bodies recoverd .
 No-one at this time was anxious to investigate the Green Zone.

Nevertheless as night closed in  IZAL had not been dislodged from their positions and so really were the victors on the day- though only marginally . Akharsibad would need a new Govenor and the British were deeply perplexed at the inability of the Arabs to sort out their own problems. Just another day in Harraq methinks .....

As always the Hot Beef Butties and the Ale were excellent and a fine time was had by all-  Next months game may be Naval with Floating Jeff in the chair ... possibly ...