Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Shiny Chasseurs and a Curassier

As always when you work for a living personal stuff takes longer than you estimate - usually by a good way.
 Thus it was with these finally finished Chasseurs of the French Imperial Guard- Napoleonic  of course. I've been at these for what seems like years and there are only 10 of them. Of course I've been painting other stuff as well both for this project and for others such as the 40mm Wars of the Roses game our group put on at the Durham show last June.

However these are now finally finished all but the Officer being 30mm Minifigs from the late 60s- early 70s . The Officer himself being a Stadden. Horses are Stadden or Willie.

 I've also begun a unit of Minot French Curassiers. These need work most notably with their carbines(which were I dong an earlier campaign I need not worry about but this is 1815 so they need carbines). Now I have carbines for a good number of these. It comes as a small casting integral with the valise but the figures have no carbine belts so as it stands just sort of hangs there uselessly. Carbine belts are easily made from metal foil from used bottles of a decent red. French, Spanish or Italian- your choice, though currently my taste runs to Italian. Its a bit fiddly  but better than letting the carbine hang at a silly angle from nothing in particular. The casualty- hiding quite sensibly in the shrubbery is also a minot.

Was hoping to get the first shinyloo game in this weekend but it does not look likely. Most of the rest of the T.W.A.T.S.  have work commitments so once again I will probably have to postpone until I can get enough TWATS in one place.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Set unit sizes in wargames rules

One of the things in "modern" wargaming that really sets my teeth on edge is the use of set and immutable unit sizes. For me an otherwise decent set of rules such as Honours of War or Maurice is totally ruined by the use of the same unit sizes for all nationalities.
 Now the two sets I have mentioned are by no means the only ones or even the worst offender(That prize goes as with most things to DBR)  indeed any set of rules which enforces a set organisation upon the player will get my back up. Now as it happens I like both Maurice and Honours of war and- certainly with the latter if I can work out how to solve the problem of the set unit sizes the rules will rise further in my estimation.
 If you take even a cursory look at any campaign you quickly see that unit strengths in any give army vary widely and that between armies and nationalities the variation is even wider. So why do so many  of today's "game designers" cop out and impose a set organisation upon the players?. Equally why do so many players accept it. Well that one is easy because its FunFunFun and  please don't ask us to know anything about what we are doing because knowing stuff isn't funfunfun . Of course it may be even more funfunfun if the organisations are completely fictitious and bear no resemblance to reality.(DBR again and of course Pikemans Lament ) Never forgetting for one moment that the funsters only allow their kind of funfunfun  to be any fun at all- and who appointed them the Fun Police anyway?

 So if knowing your military history- even a little bit- isn't fun then why bother to be a WAR gamer at all. There are plenty of games that do not require any kind of knowledge, that are equally as absorbing (so I'm told).
Without the history and knowledge I couldn't be bothered with the actual gaming. It would have no real point of itself and I'm sure I could find another reason to meet my mates down the pub.

However back to the plot.
 Set unit sizes - or rather rules which force set unis sizes are only a gaming convenience. A lazy way of organising rules for the convenience of the game designer and in theory the convenience of the gamer who then- obeying the diktats of the game won't need to sully his mind with anything as difficult as actually knowing about the period he is playing.
 Now there are plenty of rule sets which don't force unit sizes upon you.My favourite commercial ECW set -Forlorn Hope- doesn't. WRG didn't. The Classics didn't really- though Grant came close but you could get round his unit sizes easily as the rules were figure driven WHAB didn't or its offshoots. Young didn't- though his suggested units sort of did the rules were not dependent upon the unit sizes  to actually function and that is the nub of my distaste for set unit sizes.  If the set unit size is and worse- the points system are part of how the combat and morale mechanisms function then - at least to me- it is pretty obvious that the game designer has not read up on his period- or if he has he then decides to chuck all of that out in favour of his favourite(this week) "game mechanism" . Now this may not matter if you are making a fantasy game of a sci-fi game or a game of zombie  vampire cowboy nazis or whatever adolescent bandwaggon you are jumping on this afternoon but it should matter if you are  writing any set of rules which purports to depict an historical period.

As I write it occurs- not for the first time- that there may be a widening distinction between the "game designer" and the rules writer. Their objectives may be very different. A rules writer may actually want to reflect the historical period in his rules for wargaming the military actions of that period.  A game designer may simply want to make  what he considers to be a "good game"- whatever that might be. Now if the 2 differing sets of criteria overlap all well and good  you may - just may get a good game that reflects its chosen period or part of it. Many "games" these days are significantly more limited in scope than say Forlorn Hope or Tactica  or WRG  or even Black Powder . But of course to actually mention this to the Fun Police brings down coals of fire upon any who do not want lightweight adolescent amusement ALL the time (instead of just some of the time) and whose idea of fun  may be different from another zombie dice rolling contest.

The set unit size is of course only a symptom of limited game disease and convenience wargaming and in themselves there is nothing actually wrong with either but if that is all that is left when the Fun Police have finished..... Fortunately at the moment there are still enough blokes out there who have their own idea of fun.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Avec mes sabots- a belated part deux....

What seems like an age ago  one of my early posts was entitles "Avec me sabots" in 2012  so it shows how long I have been running this little blog.
 However those were for my 40mm figures. I have used them in the ECW/TYW collections and also for the tiny groups of 40mm Marlburians that I have painted.
The "singles" look.

As I increased the "shinyloo" collection it occurred to me that  some of my more thumbfingered compatriots at the T.W.A.T.S. might not be best pleased at having to move all of the figures about in singles so, just to be on the safe side I invested in some more of those spiffing bases by Warbases only this time I chose those with 20mm diameter holes for the 30mm figures of the "shinyloo" forces.
 Maling these new sabot bases fit in stylistically is not a problem- a bit fiddly perhaps but definitely worth the effort.. The biggest problem was making sure the base -tex didn't gum up the holes.
 I still think I prefer the single figure look overall but these are a useful compromise as they are still pretty attractive. Also an unforseen advantage arose. The French should deploy in 3 ranks- so I bought bases that were 3x3 for them so each French "Charge" type company of 18 men is on 2 bases. The British companies of 16 men are on either 1 base in 2 ranks of 8 or 2 bases each of 2 ranks of 4 . Actually I bought the wrong bases for the Brits- well too many of the 16man bases anyway- or so I thought at first, but now I have both options available and I'm even beginning to think about extending this idea into other periods.

The "sabot" look.

Cavalry will remain as singles- unless I can get bases made to order- which is certainly possible. For charge type games I think I'd do cavalry bases in 4s... still thinking about this though. It may even be that for actual melee contact in games I will make the players leave the bases behind.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

More on Derby worlds

I've had this round robin email from the DerbyWorlds organiser as well as being asked to join some possibly non-existant Farcebook group to "present a cohereant front" or somesuch. Now when I followed the suggestions to join said group nothing happened and I've had nothing back from the emailer of the invitation. However here is the text of the DerbyWorlds organiser email in full

Hi All,

Here is a summary of the Derby Worlds 2017 show.  We appreciate all the efforts made by traders, tournament players, demo games and participation games to help ensure the show was a success.  As you are all aware, in March this year, Donington, with no notice cancelled our booking (which was made in March 2016!), and we still have not given the deposit back.  We were faced with cancelling the show or getting something underway.  Options were limited as we needed a large enough venue which also had that date available and as the only viable option was Hangar 42 we elected to go for that rather than simply cancelling the show.  A show rarely recovers from a missed year.  Whilst the new venue certainly has improved lighting, parking and overall facilities, the 20% less usable floor area compared to Donington was always going to be an interim challenge.  Many people think we chose to move venue, but I can assure you we did not want to.  It created a massive amount of unplanned work and substantial cost too.  For clarification, Donington no longer host events, and even the car boot sales, antique sales etc have been left in the same situation as us.

Overall the show went well with the vast majority of attendees both enjoying it and appreciating that it did in fact take place.  As anticipated, the total attendees were slightly down compared with 2016, and that was expected with the venue change.  Total number of paying visitors were 16% down at 1458 over the weekend compared to 1728 in 2016.

We advertised heavily in the press in the 6 months ahead of the show and on Facebook, Twitter and gave out over 20,000 flyers with the new location and details on there, as well as adding direction signs at all major junctions heading to the venue.

The main challenge in regard to space on the day, is that a small minority of traders took a very selfish line and for example having booked a 12ft x 6ft stand, took a 12ft x 10ft space and so reduced the aisle width as well as taking space from other traders, forcing further issues.  Others with a 24ft x 6ft booking ignored direct requests to them (and us physically moving their tables back to the stand size they had booked) and created a 26ft x 9ft stand, again compromising the aisles and other trade stands. The vast majority of traders were hugely supportive of the event continuing and were extremely helpful throughout the weekend, and a number of them even compromised their stands in light of others actions of others.  We are truly thankful to those.  Some traders and demos already have booked for 2018.  Two of our staff members who were key to running the event did not turn up for work despite having those 3 days of the show booked in their work schedule.  That situation has been resolved.  The company setting delivering and setting up the tables were scheduled to be finished at 12.00 and did not finish until after 14.00 which compounded the issue too.

The feedback on the catering was positive, especially in comparison to Donington.  Likewise many visitors liked the fact they could pay their entry by card and keep cash for the show.  The cash machines with free withdrawals were relatively popular, and enabled many to take cash out for show purchases.  The vouchers given out for the tournament entrants worked well and certainly ensure a good flow of sales from the tournament players.

As is the way of the world, it is easy to post negative comments on internet forums and I am sure you have read some of them.  Sadly none of them have taken any time to find out the background or future plans, and indeed contain inaccuracies.  Surprisingly some traders have also made posts too rather than establish any facts.  Some of you have written in, or phoned in, and given us constructive feedback for 2018.  The actions we can put in place are key to the show continuing in 2018 and beyond.  It is nice to note that there is a balance out there and some have taken a more positive tone, with a clear knowledge of the issues that Donington created for us at short notice.

Certainly for 2018 the following actions are being implemented, and I am sure further ones will too.

Marquee outside for Tournaments to allow us to create 8ft trader stands plus 8ft aisles in the main hall.
Marquee outside for Tournaments with booking-in to reduce the tournament entry queues.
Additional signs for the toilets (as although on the plan some were unaware of the 2 toilet blocks on the far side of the hall)
Even more signs at junctions leading to the venue.
Increased Derby Worlds staff.
Look at how we can have the 2nd roller shutter accessed for setup/breakdown too.
Revise the setting up of the tables to increase the start time available on Friday for setting up from at least midday.

Derby Worlds 2018 will be on the 6th and 7th October 2018.  We anticipate with the actions in place as above that the event will run much more smoothly in 2018, though any thoughts and directions appreciated as ever to ensure that Derby Worlds continues to be a key event on the Wargaming calendar.

Kind regards

Now if they put this lot into practice some of this years teething problems will go. Though I didn't need a sign to find the loos. As I said in the previous post on this subject as a new untried show it was OK . I was well aware of the short notice problem and none of the actual practical difficulties really gave me the hump other than up to a point the overcrowding of the trade area-
 So lets see if they can do what they want to do. Hope so 

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Battle of Bumbletown September 1777

So there were were a mere 4 T.W.AT.S. for our September game. A  game which had been put off until the 30th for various reasons- on the 29th it looked as if 7 or 8 members would turn up but last minute work and  a case of the Squitters put paid to that!
  Therfore Gentle Reader  there were only 4 stalwart fellows for this engagement.
 to wit- Myself ,Jim the Builder , Andrew the Tekkie and Mechanical Shaun. Jim was in the chair and he elected to run a 15mm AWI game with his rather tasty collection of newly painted Blue Moon. Rules would be the  AWI  set British Grenadier.
 The stage was set for a bit of a bloodbath.....
The Battlefield a few moves in . The British navigate past the pond, The Patriot redoubt on the extreme right.Bumbletown on the left. 

 The Patriot Forces- this time commanded by yours truly were a mixed bag as you would expect . Some decent regulars and some iffy militia backed up by good artillery, This lot faced a somewhat larger British force of all regulars including Grenadiers and Footguards with a German Brigade of Hessian mercenaries and slightly less artillery than the Patriots.
 Aredoubt containing our 4 guns dominated the right and much of our centre and funnelled the British somewhat o n the left the hamlet of Bumbletown (founded by Jedidiah Bumble in 1763 pop 69) was defended by the Bumbltown Minutemen. The main American battleline was a bit stretched and despite fence lines and redoubts this was- eventually- a serious matter.

View from Bumbletown across the field.. Their are an awful lot of British. 

 However all started well for the  outnumbered Patriots with their artillery performing particularly well. The German Brigade- commanded by Shaun  however began an advance on Bumbletown whilst in the centre the British Brigade hung back somewhat because of the havoc being caused by the Patriot guns in the redoubt . Also - after hanging back for a while a unit of Patriot backwoodsmen advanced from the redoubt into the woods to their from with the intention of taking the British guns in flank and subjecting them to accurate rifle fire. This took time but eventually was to neutralise the British guns as well as seeing off a small infantry unit.
The Bumbletown minutemen resist the Hessian onslaught.

On the Patriot left the Hessian bundled the minutemen out of Bumbletown but were brought up short by the fence line and a battalion of regulars. Taking heart the minutemen saw off the Hessian Jaegers and the regulars eventually broke a musketeer battalion - with help from the militia.
 However in the centre the deluge was about to appear- no less than 4 British battalion including Grenadiers and Footguards descended upon the Patriot centre.. Enfilading fire from a militia battalion was not enough (odious cubes!) nor was a first volley from a battalion of regulars(odious cubes again) and after a brutal melee the regulars broke finding British Grenadier bayonets just too much.(odious cubes yet again).
 It is starting to go just a bit pear shaped..

With a gaping hole in the centre and the left engaged with the Hessians it was time to go - so standing not upon the order of our going we went ....

Allover me like a rash. Time to be off home I think.

The extra 2 British units were crucial here giving them a powerful reserve to which our mixed bag of regulars and militia ultimately had no real answer- yes we bloodied them and at one point Andrew was ready to pack it in, in despair but Shaun stiffened his resolve and shouted  "Vorwarts" in crusty  Germanic accents !  Guzzeling his diet Coke the while(well he was driving so his beer was imaginary)

So it all went pear shaped at the end for the Patriots.. Nevertheless a pretty good game. I do like British Grenadier despite a few foibles it is the best commercial AWI set I've come across - and would work well for the War of 1812 and possibly- with a few amendments 18th century India as well.
 As always thanks are due to Landlady Jean for excellent Beef Butties and the White Hot was very drinkable as well- cos I wasn't driving .

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Derby Worlds 2017- A traders view.

Last weekend saw the latest incarnation of the Derby World Wargames- now called "DerbyWorlds"  at the new venue of Bruntingthorpe in the middle of Rural Leicestershire.
 The high trade stand price (20% rise on last year)  gave me to decide on a smaller stand and only take the 15mm lines- which currently outsell 25/28mm by almost two to one. Customers could of course pre-order anything we  have in stock of whatever size- so chaps orders 10mm and 25mm and even some 40mm - without these pre-orders  we would have been dead and buried. Most of the other traders I spoke to said the same.
 Now I doubt not that other bloggers will heap coals of fire upon the heads of the organisers - and yes some are possibly deserved - but equally some are not.
Bruntingthorpe is 10 miles away from almost everything  but once you get there it is not a bad venue at all. I've been in worse many times- any sweaty jock-strap and wee wee smelling sports hall for a start. In theory access was pretty good and unlike some we had no problem unloading on Friday. Though loading up at shows end was a bit like wacky races.

 Blaming the actual venue  for a poor show is of course nonsense the venue problems were all caused by the show organisers- well the new one anyhow. You can't get a quart into a pint pot. This venue was about 30% smaller than Donnington yet  the same or greater numbers of Traders games and competitions were shoe horned in- like a fat bird trying to get into a size 10 frock.  So the show was cramped and oversubscribed for the size of the venue- not the fault of the venue. Lighting was a bit average but at least part of that was caused by the overcrowding and the height of some traders advertising banners.
 Trade was not exactly brisk but over the whole weekend we did OK but no more than that. Frankly not awful for a new show in a new venue- which despite its ancestry this event was.  Catering was well above normal show standards  but as is often the case at these "event venues" not exactly cheap. Mind you the roast pork butties were excellent..

 My biggest bitch with the whole affair was the tone and attitude of  Kaiser Rushforth Ltd- who now seem to own the event.- It was they I paid my stand fee to rather than as previously Derby Wargames Associates. It was obvious from the printed show guide that this event was no longer the Derby World Wargames - to present a showcase for the whole hobby- but rather a showcase foe the owning company to promote their view of the hobby and to make a few quid(nothing wrong with that last bit but  the tone wasn't half laying it on a bit thick) Indeed I'd go further the whole tone of the organisers emails was rather like a workshop junkie on speed - continually telling we traders how exciting it all was and how wonderful it all would be- as if they were trying to convince themselves or manipulate us and the customers.- and assuming we were all 10 year old boys. I could small the  patronising corporate BS  from some distance. Not only was it slightly unpleasant it was not needed.
 None of that really impinged upon the actual show but may have helped to make it rather less than it should have been.
 However taking the show as a new event with the associated teething problems of such then overall it was not too bad sort of a 5 out of 10 maybe a 6 - just(the last point for the Pork Butties alone really)

Will I go back- probably . Will I take a larger more expensive stand- no chance. We will stick to a smaller stand and take only 15mm lines for the day sales. Other sizes will once again need to be pre-ordered..
 Do the organisers need to up their game? Damn right they do for the wedge that the traders and the punters are putting out somebody needs to be less patronising and a little bit smarter.
 We'll see what next year brings

Friday, 22 September 2017

A Perfect Storm(ing)

 The appearance of a photo of Todd Fishers amazing Storming of the Tuiilieries  game in the most recent WI causwed me to dig out my one and only copy of the now defunct US magazine Historical Gamer with its article written by Jim Purky on that splendid game.
 Now as I've said previously I was involved in that I built Paris.... well 36 square feet of it  for that game. Ian Weekly built the actual palace and 2 other chaps whose names escaped me until I re-read the article also supplies building and scenery for the game namely Duke Siefried who constructed the gardens and Herb Gundt who provided the posher bits of upper crust Paris that I didn't do . No my job was the festering slums of the Sans Cullottes and it was a far far better thing than I ever did - up to that point anyhow.
 But rather tha go on  here is the picture that started this current trian of thought and following is the article from Historical Gamer

The photo which appeared in the current Wargames Illustrated- no 360. The picture is at least 26 years old.
 We knew how to wargame back in the old days !!

  It is now over a quarter of a century since the game was played. Now as it happens I didn't play but I know cos I was there- with paint and glue all over my fingers.
 Wouldn't have missed it.