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Friday 17 November 2023

Khalsa ! A Guide to Wargaming the Anglo Sikh Wars.

It's Out!  

So here is my second book and my first in the Helion Wargames series.

It was  both fun and challenging to write. To be honest I found the 'wargaming' bits sometimes more of a challenge then the 'history' bits but it all seems to have come out right in the end.. I have not yet seen a print copy  but the final proof looked pretty dammed good in my very biased opinion.
 Interested chaps can  buy a copy here. 

on the Helion website at an introductory offer price.
 Also Helion will be at Battleground Wargames show in Stockton - on- Tees on Saturday 25th November - as indeed will I .
 My gaming group and I will be running a Sikh Wars game in 28mm based around one of the scenarios in the book.
 See your there perhaps. ?

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Corvus Miniatures - A Brief and possibly inaccurate history.

 Corvus Miniatures were a British wargames figure company that flourished  briefly in the 1980s before disappearing without trace sometime after 1987 .

 They produced a quite extensive range of 25mm figures that today would be called 28mm being around the same size as Foundry.

 The began production in 1983 but the first advert I can find from them is in Miniature Wargames no 12 

 Corvus advert from no 12 of MW showing 'New Releases'.

The company steadily added new items to its listings.  Including a Dark Ages range - which I had completely forgotten about - even though I'm sure I had some of the Normans and maybe some ofthe Welsh.

Another advert- this one from MW13

For me the best of their ranges was the ECW- much of it based on the the then very new Haythornthwaite book published I think by Blandford, which I may still have somewhere. The range would in time become quite extensive. 

The advert in MW14 announcing the ECW range. 

The next advert in MW15 shows more releases in different periods The company certainly had some ambition. My own view was that I almost always liked the figures I bought from them and found them of pretty high quality and detail.

Another ad from MW15 though they missed off the company name ! 

 Though as others noted the horses tended to be on the small side. 
MW18 had almost a page and a half of figure reviews from Corvus- these are the days before the internet- we used to actually read stuff back then! 

The 2 pages of the review. I note that while Corvus has sunk without trace Trev Dixon is still  going strong ! 

This review - also from MW this time no 21 gives a look at the models themselves. I  have a couple of the officer with half pike and 10 of the loading musketeer. plus a few Pikemen - all picked up a couple of years ago second hand. 

Some of the Corvus Normans. 

Another review  this time from MW27  August 1985- a bundle of ECW personalities- which I never got around to buying. 

 December 1985 issue of MW has an advert for the 1986 'Corvus Miniatures  World Team Championships run by the Derby Wargames Associates- with whom I and Old Glory UK would be happily involved sponsoring the World Team Championships  during the mid 1990s and on past the millennium

 Corvus' next advert in MW  that I have been able to find is May 1986 and the company has moved to a new address but is still making new ranges.

 The final mention of the company that I have so far found is from later in 1986 and shows their Franco- Prussian War range. This is a photo- review though the quality is no wonderful 

Corvus Franco- Prussian War.  I seem to recall seeing some of these at a Durham Wargames Group meeting. I was a member back then! 

The above is the last mention I have so far found. It might be telling that the address given in the review is for a shop 'The Parade Ground' in Sussex. I have a dim recollection that Corvus may have become 'Sussex Miniatures' but have not so far found any documentary evidence to support this.. The above review appears in MW39 August 1986 . I have found no more mentions of the company in MW though I do have some early issues of WI to check through. and have so far found that Corvus seem to have been taken over by 
 The Parade Gound, WI no1 has an advert for the Osprey World Championships 1987 which had 'The Parade Ground (Including Corvus and Tin Soldier) listed as attending the show.  More info if and when I discover any. 

November 8th 2023.
 An addendum.
 In  WI no 2  October 1987. an advert for Sussex miniatures appears 'formerly the Parade Ground'   stating that they now manufacture the Corvus range under the trade name of Sussex Miniatures.  Now all I have to do is find what happened to Sussex Miniatures. The same Company also manufactured the Tin Soldier range so I wonder how long that connection lasted and if the current 'Tin Solder' range are the same. 

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Khalsa- a Guide to Wargaming the Anglo- Sikh Wars.

 Well here is the cover of our - that is mine and Jim's -  book on wargaming the Sikh Wars due out next month. 

So here Gentle readers is some actual evidence ! 

On the Helion Website here  

Saturday 14 October 2023

It has been a while !

 Sometimes you  simply have to let something slide. there simply are not enough hours in the working day.

Last weekend was Partizan which meant  getting the van from the hirer , loading up said van then getting up at half past bloody early for the drive to Newark. Doing the show - which was pretty busy- loading up and driving back. Unloading then getting the van back to the hirer on the Monday morning. Does not leave a lot of time for much else over three days. This time was made a bit more frantic as for the previous two days I was also unpacking a shipment from the USA and pulling a bundle of back- orders to make sure I didn't sell 'em at the show Then of course you have all the catching up to do when you get back. mostly done now but still some back orders to go out next week. Phew!

 Previous to that I was busy putting the finishing touches to my soon to be published (I'm told November so in time for Crimbo dudes!) book 'Khalsa - A Guide to Wargaming the Anglo- Sikh Wars'. Helion being the publisher in their Helion Wargames series.

Sikh Ghorcharra. The mainstay of the Sikh cavalry. No Sikh army can have too many of these chaps  so there are always some on my painting table.

 Almost 70.000 words plus a bundle of photos of mine and Colin Ashton's Sikh Wars collections in action. Add to that the Uniform and organisational guides and  several scenarios and 'scenario sketches'  and I'm pretty pleased with it Not for a moment forgetting the figure painting chapter by my good friend James Main which adds  considerably to the book. Now all I'm waiting for is to see it in print.

 Oh and yes there is a fair bit of narrative history in there as well..

The Sirmoor Local Battalion- a Ghurkha unit. This unit fought in the First Sikh War at Aliwal and Sobraon.. Despite the 'rifles' style uniform they did carry colours .

I'm told I'll have copies in time for Battleground show on November 26th - at which event Helion  are listed as a trader so we shall see.

 Our gaming group are doing a Sikh Wars demo game so in my few and far between spare moments I am painting Sikh Wars figures to add to my still growing collection. Oh and maybe a bit of the World Cup.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Bitsa this and Bitsa that.

 Over the last few weeks I have been trying to  progress on three different projects. Now those of you who don't get bored when organising their socks in colour and numerical order may thing this a little odd. Well maybe it is but single minded concentration on 1 wargaming project to the exclusion of all others would simply bore me witless and the quality would therefore suffer.

 So Gentle Reader  my painting table always has more than one lot of partly painted figures on it. 

 Currently the projects in hand are- 

 1/. Anglo -Sikh Wars. This is progressing nicely. I now have forces for both sides that are bigger than the game shown in the Sikh and Ye Shall Find post a few months back. Currently working on the 1st Bengal European Light Infantry. This is the most pressing of the projects as I need to add sufficient to the two armies for a demo game at The  Battle Ground Wargames show in late November - by which time my book on wargaming  the Anglo- Sikh wars should be imminent if not actually published. Once 1 BELI are done then it is on to 2nd Bengal Native Infantry Grenadiers. Assorted Sikh Irregulars will fill in any gaps on the painting table.

Bengal or Bombay  Field battery- with a 9 pdr. In front 
of a British camp. Bengal Native Infantry in the background.

The same Foot battery with the first of the  First Bengal European Light Infantry.
 More of these on the painting table.
Old Glory  28mm figures . Gun by Eagle Figures

2/. Shinyloo!.  I always have a few  retro style models on the table as a sort of light relief. Most recently finished are some French Foot artillery and a few French Dragoons. Both arrived here in a 'sort of painted' state so didn't need everything doing to them hence they were quite quick to finish and add to the growing collection of old shiny dudes. 

Recently added shiny dudes.
 Hinchliffe 30mm French Foot Artillery.
Connoisseur French Dragoons.

3/. 40mm Thirty Year War.  This project has languished for quite a while. Mostly because I simply could not decide which way I wanted to go with it. However two excellent books  recently published by Helion have helped me on the way. So French and Imperialists it shall be, with perhaps a slight accent towards the Spanish of the 1640s-50s.  But then again I might change my mind .... 

40mm TYW
 incongruously appearing in the Punjab!
Models on their sabots are a mixture of my own Romanoff Miniatures some ex-Jacdaw 
 and some with Sash and Saber heads

After reading a line in the recent Helion book on
Rocroi where a Spanish commander takes up a buckler
 I rather thought I'd make such a figure from various Romanoff parts. 
The result is the chap in the middle. 

 The 18 Musketeers no 2 exactly alike . Rebased on round 25mm diameter bases.

Units will be largish so not too many actual units on the table - accent will be on 'minor tactics' and  battalion command, at least that is currently the plan. Rules will be somewhat retro as many modern rules simply 'abstract out'  many of the interesting bits of 17th century warfare in favour of game simplicity for the hard of thinking but the role of a colonel or captain was very different from that of a general and rules should reflect this- you can't refight Lutzen using Pikeman's Lament-  and it is not meant for such  but I'll not use them for this project as they have many other historical and organisational problems despite being supposedly set at the command level I am looking for.. I have found a Featherstone set which may do the deed if I can graft on some command rules.  We shall see. 

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Catching up on my Reading 19 . A Blast from the Past.

  Donald Featherstone's Lost Tales .Edited by John Curry.

I've had this volume for a while and never thought of reviewing it until recently. However as a book by one of the 'originators'  of the wargaming hobby as it stands today it deserves a second and even a third look. Regular readers will know that I have a soft spot for 'retro' wargaming, often preferring it to some of the gamesey  history free twaddle that masquerades as 'historical wargaming' in this 'modern era'. Now that is not the same as saying that ALL modern 'games' are tripe  - they are not-  but like the curates egg- the modern era of historical wargaming is only good in parts.

In some ways it is a strange book, combining as it does real history and wargaming.

 The real history consists of Featherstone's 'War Memoirs' and a short history of the Army Tank battalion he served with . This last has  several gameable scenarios   within its narrative as well as the rather unusual organisational quirks of 51st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment with its mixture of Sherman  and Churchill tanks while in Italy. There is also an essay on 'The Birth of Modern Wargaming'  which should set the record straight concerning how what we have today began in the late 50s /early 60s which 'Millenial wargamers' should read . The picture of wargamers of yesteryear in Jackets and ties will raise a smile or three! 

As for the 'Wargaming' bit well the main body of the book is a block of Featherstone rules actually a total of  12 sets by either Featherstone himself or Tony Bath covering most of the popular and a couple of more obscure periods. Some a very simple, even simplistic, and many are also rather skeletal in terms of the actual amount of rules given. These are not 'games' in the sense many expect today. They assume some pre-knowledge of period and some suspension of belief- especially with regard to Command and Control and  formations This does not mean they are useless. A decent Umpire can use their vey simplicity and skeletal nature as a toolrack to hang his scenarios upon adding scenario specific rules as required. Games using these rules will be fast and bloody- especially in the Horse and musket era. There are no set unit sizes here  although there are some suggestions.

 Arthur Harman's useful  introduction to the rules section of the book points out many of the possible pitfalls and inconsistencies and his point about the suitability of these rules for small actions is well made and to the point and the lack of period detail is also mentioned. However I would opine that such lack may at times be advantageous to the well read Umpire, and as a fan of 'Active Umpiring' the very simplicity has its uses.

 To be honest it is unlikely that I'd  umpire a game using these rules without some amendments more than once or twice ,as usual I treat rules as a toolbox and feel free to amend as alter as needed in much the same way  Donald Featherstone  advocated.

So  yes I recommend this book to chaps who have an interest in the development of our hobby. Don was after all one of the pioneers.

Friday 4 August 2023

Catching up on my Reading 18. The Battle of Lutzen A Reassessment by Andre Schurger

This latest volume by Published by Helion in the Century of the Soldier series (It is no 104) landed on my mat almost a month ago and has taken some reading. This is not a bad thing as it is well worth the time actual study takes.

 The Battle of Lutzen in the Thirty Years War is mostly famous  for the untimely death of King Gustav Adolf II of Sweden in the heat of the action and the confusion of battle, at which point apparently hearing of their Kings death  by magical means the Swedes  went battle mad and promptly polished off the Imperialists in short order.
 Needless to say the reality was a lot more complex that that which this fine book goes on to explain. 

 Indeed it is so stuffed with useful information that it is actually overflowing, as another 80 PAGES are available as a download from the Helion website, which will give the careful reader even more useful and fascinating information.. This section contains another 48 assorted maps and charts of  archaeological finds and bullet distribution. Maps of pre-battle movement and a clutch of battle maps showing  formation movements down to brigade and sometimes even regimental level.

 So what  do you actually get in the paper format?
Physically the book is in the usual Helion style and has 241 pages  with 17 pages of colour plates of troop types and colours plus two colour maps of army deployment.
The eight chapters cover all you might expect in a 'Battle ' book  such as the campaign including the difficulties of supplying seventeenth century armies and the two armies  orders of battle and deployments but also a whole lot more.

 For a start there is a serious examination of  both primary and secondary sources and their respective values (or lack of such) Then an equally serious examination of the archaeology, much of which the author was himself involved in so he knows whereof he speaks.

With the help of the downloadable maps- these give extra details- the reader is taken through the battle  blow by blow in deep and almost exhaustive detail. From the initial manoeuvres through to the Kings death and Pappenhiem's arrival to the exhaustion of both armies and the final Swedish attacks it is all here for the reader to study.

 One of the things that surprised me was how comparatively small the battle was.  The total troop numbers for both armies  only just topped 30,000 men. Somehow I had the erroneous impression that the two armies were much larger.

There are , as you would expect,  more than a few translated chunks of contemporary accounts and the author uses these to illustrate his points well. 

Now I not going to launch any spoilers here, regular readers will know that is not my style, you will have to buy the book and download the extra info to get a full picture of what is there . Anyone wit any kind of interest in 17th century warfare should have this volume on his shelves.   

 My only niggle - and it is a very very minor one, is the authors use of military terminology - in particular the word 'squadron'- which for most of us is a sub unit of a cavalry regiment often in the 17th century  composed of two 'troops' or 'companies' of horse usually, though not always, from the same regiment.
 Here the term  is used as a catch all for anything from a  battalion of 1,000 or so Imperial infantry (some of the eight of these units were made up of more than one regiment) through the usual cavalry term to any detached unit of  'commanded' musketeers. I found this a tad confusing until I worked it out and once you realise this it does not detract from the book in the slightest.

So yes I  commend  this book to any Pike and Shot fans wargamers or not, but more than that, this is a book  worth serious study to any student of 17th century military history. 

 Highly Recommended