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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

Friday, 19 December 2014

Three musketeeers conducting a small orchestra ???


A Bunch of Old Willies .....

No, now wait a minute -  Titter ye Not! . The above is not another bash at the OFW crowd- far from it  In fact both of the titles refer to  the nearest I have to a regiment of Suren ECW figures. By the standards of todays knowledge they are a bit odd. Over armoured pikemen and musketeers in the costume of the 1620s, or earlier- taken straight out of De Geyn and frankly a bit too posh for the soldiery of the 1640s. More like the well of  chaps who were members of the various "Military Gardens" or Artillery Societies of the pre- Civil war dats  than the rank and file of the Oxford army or  Essex's Parliamentarians..
 Nevertheless they are pretty enough and worth the painting- so I did. partly to illustrate the diiferences in  knowledge  between "back in the day"- these are at least 40 years old if not considerably more- and now.

 Title picture? These 3 musketeeers are holding little batons in their right hands- presumably supoosed to be ramrods.... just out of the picture is the orchestra they are conducting ...
A single Willie on a horse !- the only "ECW"  mounted Suren  I currently have. He would fit well into Early TYW armies but is decidedly old fashioned by 1642
 Currently the unit- based upon Lord Stamford in Essex's army have 14 pikemen and a mere 9 musketeers. I have a couple more pikemen about but only 1 more musketeer somwhere.
The rest of the unit- all of which are Old Willies!.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Battle of Borcka- Northern Turkey 1992

 So- a somewaht late desptch this as I've been somewhat busy with Crimbo and the like. Nevertheless several regualr TWATS gathered at our local pub for a game on the 22nd November.
 Andrew the Tekkie in the chair- so it meant I actually got to play.with my own toys as -predictably it was a modern scenario .
 We'd decided to move away from "Harraq" as the T-72s were sick of getting a total kicking. therefore wemoved north under the ovecast skys of Northern Turkey - near the border with the Republic of Georgia- check it out on Google maps -
 So the basic scenario

Battle of Borcka  November 1992

General Situation .
 A pro- Russian coup in the new Republic of Georgia has brought General Vladimir Illyich Donchaferkov into power. A Georgian by birth and Russian army trained this man is a Cold Warrior of skill and courage.
 In order to “free”  ethnic Georgians across the border in Turkey he has ordered his – largely Russian -  “Josef Stalin” armoured Battle group to cross the border and secure the town of Borcka . Currently undefended. Indeed the Generals forces have been joined by small numbers of  Rebels  of T’urdish ethnicity with a few clapped out T-55 – supplied by Guess Who? 
 These rebel leaders   of the Total Union of Revolutionary Democrats are also Moscow trained
 In iorder to show Nato solidarity the 69RM cdo Battlegroup- which was on exercise In Turkey has moved up to the town of Borcka but may not get there before the lead elements of the rebels and Russian forces arrive. The Battlegroup has been joined by A sqn North-West Durham Yeomanry ( Commercial Volunteer Light Dragoons) with their Scimitars as an additional recon element but is otherwise as previos  orbats for 69Cdo Battlegroup.
 Weather overcast  with rain and high winds .

The Game

 There were 4 players plus Andrew as Umpire  I -for a change commanding the Russians so I could see what it felt like to die gloriously...  with Shaun as  Infantry commander. Tom taking his usual role as British commander.. Jeff decisded to command the Ireregular forces of the T.U.R.D. on the principle that as he was likely to get a kicking anyway then he would be able to blame his forces -" being Irregular crap" rather than sany mistakes he might make .....
Rules as usual were Command Decision - Combined Arms- with a few tweaks . Photographs were all taken by Andrew as I was too busy  trying to salvage something from what was sure to be an unholy wreak ...
Scimitars of the North West Durhan Yeomanyry(Commercial Volunteer Light Draggons) advance towards Borcka.

 I wasn't wrong ... but not quite in the way I'd thought.
 The game began with a nasty surprise for the Russian forces- the British battlegroup had already reached Borcha!
 "Buggerski "  thought I and immediately planned for an assualt.
Buggerski!! - the British already in Borcka.

Zulu Company 69RM throw back the first Russian assualt
To the east of the town the Irregulars were fumbling about in the hills pushing their tanks forward to be engaged by the Light Dragoon scimitars. Early fire was exchanged and a Scimitar destroyed  (Yipee!!)
 On the opposite flank masses of  T-72s were gathering  to attempt to pus back the British Challengers on the outskirts of Borcha- supported by BMP2 and BDRM with AT launchers forming an advanced Gun line.
 Indeed it was the BDRM that scored first blood on this flank taking out a Challenger- but the BDRMs died in the doing of that brave deed- a sole survivor fleeing- smoke pouring from all orifices !
 Meanwhile in the centre Shaun had launched an Infantry assualt on  the hill covering the town . However Zulu Company of 69RM was waiting and gave his assualting companies such a kicking that they lost all interest in the proceeding for  several turns - being pinned at the base of the hill then scuttling back to their vehicles.
Got one !!  A Challenger falls to ATGW. The BRDMs were wiped out next turn.

The Russian advance. T-72  Charge!

 Now the T-72 assualt went in . Once again we found that we had to be sucidially close to the challengers to get them  but we got 2 as we lost 5 tanks  or was it 6 - at least 1 tank going dowen to Milan fire from the Infantry in the town . By the standards of the time this was a reasonable exchange- especially since we also killed a WEMIK and a Viking. However the storm of fire was too much and 2 of 3 companies broke and  had to rally and re-organise  - leaving ony Regt HQ and a single company to act as rearguard . It was short, vicious and confusing just the way you might imagine a modern armoured engagement would go .
The time imperative had beaten us- the rest of our  Infantry moveing at foot pace were only now arriving on the table despit comandeering local  cars. The Ireegulars were stuck on thier hill  to the east  and had not even opend up with their Chinese built MLRs as it was stuck in the  low ground behind the hill.
Close up of the Russian assualt.

   It had been a close game. The British had suffered more losses than in any previous modern game.  Air power wasn't used this time and now I'm convinced that the Apache has been a battle winner every trime it has turned out. Had I had only a few more T-72  we could have been contenders !
 Once again Jeans Beef Butties were magnificent and sundry Beers were drunk  in the niormal mannerand a convivila time had by all  - which after you get past the dice rolling is surely what is all about.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The death of the Middle-sized show ???

 Now Battleground on the 29th was only half an hour or sop down the road for me and the crew - but was it worth it- well honestly no it wasn't.
 Bearing in mind my earlier questions regarding the new venue for what was really a re-vamped local show
the venue and its surroundings looked somewhat like a recently redecoated  city block in East Berlin in 1972- Housink for ze Prolitariat  , though probably actually  student halls of Res- same difference perhaps !
 The access was horrible- lots of doors you couldn't get you van near so everyone and his brother is unloading into one door - with very little road access. Design by committee perhaps !!
 Next - because the other doors were inaccessable the trollying distance was equivelent to a half marathon - and I wasn't the worst by any means .
 None of this was the organisers fault- other than perhaps the choice of venue in the first place- but then there is often little choice in these areas wherever you live.
 Plus points the venue was light enough and - despite being a sports hall didn't smell of jockstraps and wee wee.
 Catering- well none the Caff was across the car park and provided cardboardy tea and adequate - if flaccid bacon butties. I've had worse.... much worse, usually at Partizan 
Games- after you had seen the ones you'd already seen before -so Border Reivers Vietnam  A nice Operaltional level WW1 a 54mm Waterloo A. N. Other western Gunfight then you were left with one game- Robbie Roddis  Renaissence  one- nice- actually that would apply to all of those I've already mentioned as well  as for the Rest there was a 20mm WW2 which I never saw anyone playing or even at the Table and  the rest were dross, 4 foot table  dross crewed by people who simply wanted to fiddle with dwarfs or wizards or cards- some of these put on by companies trading at the show so having an axe to grind but all simply looking like a bad club night.. Of the 15 or so games the majority- say 2/3rds ish  were like this. Godawful . No wonder most of the punters had legged it by 1.30. Once again not directly the fault of the organisers.
 Part of the problem is the current popularity of what my mate Ken Natt calls- rather appositely- "Boutique games"   4 foot table a dozen figures a side or less  or simply open the box and play- not  the stuff you expect to see as show demos or even P P but they are starting to infect the show circuit- saw evidence of it at Donnington but because there were plenty of other games then it wasn't so obvious. Here such crap was in the majority. Now they may PLAY well but they look like s*** at an event that is supposed to showcase the hobby  4 dweebs sitting around a 4 foot tablel mumbling to each other and ignoring the public reall REALLY helps .... NOT!!
 Such stuff is very well and good at club night but not at a show ... 
 It seems that "Wargaming" as most of us understand itmay be  on the decline at middle sized smaller catchement area shows such as this those run or even partly organised by "Gaming clubs"  which is usually a euphanism for "crap fantasy and unpainted GW played here". There was also evidence of this sort of stuff at this years War Torn, Now I've often thought that to be done well Fantasy and Sci-Fi are actually harder than historicals as they often don't have such a strong crutch as history to lean on - though they may have a six foot thick Fantasy or Sci-fi book series of endless turgidity  instead  but the number of decent lookng fantasy/sci-fi games at shows seems to be on the decrease. The Warlords "Thunder- Run" being a fine recent exception. Many of the others - especially when run by Commercial Companies rather than clubs fall into the "Boutique Games" trap. Now I can rememebr quite a ferw Fantasy games over the years which- while I may not have wanted to splash the cash did pique my interest. - A latemedieval/ Renaissence game with plenty of Leanardo's War machines springs to mind as does a game which seemed to consist of floating islands- beutifully modelled and a wonderful 1970s pastiche called Diamond Geezers. All well able to stand alongside any Waterloo or Mons or whatever other historical  display you care to mention.
Where in this welter of "plug and play" boutique games has all the imagination gone !!
 That the organsiers had done a respectable job is not in doubt  Weather such shows can survive in the commercial hurly- burly  with out more support from the gaming public is another matter entirely

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Surrounded by a load od Shine!

 Its been a good while since I did a post about my "Shinyloo" project. Its been a while since I painted any . However I thought I'd see exactly whatt I had so  since I needed to do a photo shoot anyhow here are some shots of the current finished collection. Not large by any means but still growing a tiny bit at a time when I fancy painting a Stadden or a Minot - or even the odd Peter Gilder Foremost figure of which I've added a few to the unpainted pile..
 So here are some pictures of the shiny dudes.
Scots Greys set about the French!!

British Infantry and Rifles

The Duke of Shinyboot (in the Bluefrock) orders the lads about

Chasseurs of the Guard come to the aid of the hard pressed French Line.
  There are now about 70 or so figures painted with plenty more to do in between more"work- related" projects such as actually trying to undertand the jargon in a recntly aquired copy of Pike and Shotte- which looks very very pretty but I actually haven't found any rules yet but then I've only had the book for an hour.
 More shinyloo soon- I've some Polish Lancers on the  painting table. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


 So there's this show in Stockton this coming Saturday. The Smoggycon replacement- called with montrous unorigionality- Battleground  And yes Old Glory UK expect to be there with loads of toy soldiers to temp the portaits of Her Maj out of your wallets.
 A new venue  is always a bit of a test.
 How will the unload go?
 Is it convenient.
 Is there a decent Bacon Buttie to be had?
(Very important this when you have been up since half past sparrow-fart and have  just moved a Tonne of metal)
Do the punters know where the place is and  (b) Will they actually bother to turn up?
(Another couple of  questions you can't know the answer to until you get there and the doors are open)
 Is the lunchtime scoff half decent-( 9 times out of 10 the answer is no  but you always live in hope )
 Is there a bar ?
 (Usually you need a pint to take away the nasty taste of the 'orrible food but then sometimes the Beer on offer is so Godawful that even mediocre food  tastes better than  overpriced Tetlys or worse John Smiths tasteless soapy)
I've downloaded this from the Battleground site.
 But as always we live in hope.
 However Now I've downloaded the above image I see that the "caff" is across the carpark-  sound convenient- I await the first set of second degree burns as some poor sod spills coffee all over himself avoiding a flying van !!  Of a Bar I see no mention- but I may have missed it. Of blokes selling actual soldiers there are not many - maybe 8 out of 32  or possibly 9  - so 25% of the trrade- though perhaps there are some second hand dealers amongst the traders wo I have not previously heard of and at least 2 amongst those I have so non- figure sellers are in the majority.
 Of the actual figure traders only1 (that would be me) is selling 15mm figures. 2 (me again and Pendraken of course ) are selling 10mm.Baccus have their 6mm  The rest- also including me- are selling what we are forced to call "28mm" which I've always though was a silly term for figures which are not 28mm  but there you go, lots of 25mm weren't 25mm either so take your pick!
 What strikes me is how narrow it has become- now granted this is a smallish show but of the traders I haven't mentioned specifically a good chunk are fantasy dudes of one sort or another and your guess is as good as mine as to exactly what "COZZMIK CAKES" is all about- One hope there will actually be cake  you never know
 So doubtless we'll find out this coming Saturday
 See you there Dudes
 Andy OGUK 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Is it me or ......

Parliamentarian Dragoons- Colonel James Wardlaws regiment- fought at Egdehill .
 There are lots of things about this hobby that leave me completely  cold. Competition playing being only the most obvious- though it was not always thus. The actual mechanics of  gaming being another, I know that some of you get an adrenalin rush from the actual game play - but I for one now very rarely approach the actual dice rolling with anything more than mild interest. Yet there are chaps out there who view the dice rolling as a life or death experience- Oooh- ing and Arrgh- ing over every 6 or 1  by gum its  positively childish - come on chaps you aren't ALL  6 years old. all of the time
 Mind you the whole of life is starting to look like that- witness the "we're gonna make 'em squeal" from some recently elected Republican Bimbo gracing our TV screens as we in the UK suffered the US mid-terms. Is that kind of triumphalist nonsense the right way for a "serious" politician to behave? Not that she was unusual- just a tad extreme- you get the same here - just a bit more muted thank God. Yet the overplaying of emotion is now the norm in many places, it is as if we are supposed to behave like  spoiled brats    therefore many do.
  That - as far as "popular" culture is concerned  over emotionalised over hyped  light-minded fluff  is now expected to take the place of actual thinking has been the case for some years. The idea that fads and fashions are more important than actual progress in any direction is now something we live with in most walks of life-
 Witness Professor Brian Cox  highlighting the change in the broadcasting of science programmes on TV  in the 1970 and 80 with such giants as Prof Bronowski (The Ascent of Man- I still have his fine book)  and James Burke or Carl Sagan  with thier 13 episode series  and the 3 or 4 episodes more likely in a series of today.(Not to mention that shazam-kapow  special effects often take the place of  the actual points being made)  The public attention span- even of those actually interested is shorter it seems or it is perhaps the attention span of the programme commissioners- who want to do another X-factor for the ratings war(Gawd 'elp us).
 Parliamentarian Siege guns. Formerly in the Peter Gilder collection . Part of the load I bought from DC. They have recieved a little TLC-mostly dust removal and a few repirs.

 In our world-  Witness the number of "games" that are now out there. We are no longer it seems supposed to call them "wargames rules" or rules for a given period  - they are "games" even when they are not "wargaming lite"  . This of course means that when you catch 'em out with some piece of poor research or  crappy army lists they can whine "Well its only a game" as their ultimate- and perhaps only defence. However I do not altogether blame the "Games Corporate Dudes" for this. As so  often we do this to ourselves. or is it " the public wants what the public gets " -  I'm never sure . but it does seem that many are  more secure about their hobby the more lightweight and brain free it is.
 This I really don't get at all .
WANTING to be thought of as  thick and or childish ????
 Give me a break !!
It is as if I'd be better off reading the ladybird book of Cavaliers and Roundheads rather than say Reid or Young  or Woolrych or- perish the thought- actual sources from the actual period . Has the mainstream become so lightweight that this is now the norm- or as I suspect is there no real mainstream anymore. As the hobby becomes more diverse the public face- and yes this is about public face is no longer the "best" but merely the loudest or most currently fashionable that is seen  to be the "in thing"  hence the popularity of WW2 currently - around a third of the games at Donnington from  6 years of Military History- most of that third actually form 2 years.- albeit a rather crowded 2 years !Or the number of assorted GW- a Like "games" you see at  shows- all looking very very similar except perhaps for the logo of the "Not GW at all" outfit running the game. the accent being on game- therefore in theory more "accessable" - read more sales potential . An incident at Donnington brought this into focus- Daddy had brought young Tarquin to the show  they were observing the rather fine Vietnam game put on by my mates of the Border Reivers club . Daddy in hs wisdom opined that the "Good guys"  had to catch and kill the "terrorists" . and that was wht it was all about- lets go and see the Space Orcs ... . Now Daddy hadn't been around when Vietnam was  going on and had obviouly been asleep when as a young lady once of my aquaintance puut it "We did that in History"   so like any good father he  spread the BS but it did make me wonder. People just seem to take less notice of the world than they used to and have less desire to know . One is forced to wonder why this is. .
However back to the plot- if there is one ....
Close up of the battery- the gabions are mine from vaious sources. The cavalry behind the guns are Hichliffe- from the Gilder collection . These were a bit battered and needed a couple of hours work  but you'd be a bit battered at 40 !. The Old Glory Dragoons are only a bit bigger and I can live with the size differential as both ranges have movement and style.  Unlike so much of todays stuff.

 Lets face it GW  has everything the  teenage boy of any age could want- especially if he is 47 and  still lives in his mothers attic and has no real life to go to . It has blood and torture and nastiness and more blood- even a bit of cannibalism ...all very juvenile Check out - if you can be bothered- I was "relatived" into this- the painting tutorials- now the chap is a very  good painter no argument  but what a smug  self satisfied git he looks ... "Don't forget to shake the paint !" - with hand motions yet ! . At this point my laughter was unrestrained ! - I assume you don't need a picture !
 It would be sad if it wasn't all so bloody samey-  like the recent survey in WSS- Robbie Roddiss has commented more fully on this  but is less cynical than I- after all we are now supposed to call the Renaissance "Pike and Shotte"  after the overpriced warlord set so the thickies will know what it is- "Old West" is now a proper period but the Dark Ages has disappeared - subsumed perhaps into medieval  to boost the popularity of that period-  so now Henry V and  Jean Le Bel are the same period as Ragnar Hairy -Breeks- a mere 400 years and an awful lot of culture  separateing them  from each other. whilst such murderous thugs as William Bonney and Harvey Logan (Billy the Kid and Kid Curry)  get a period of their own and are sanitised   and made  the heroes they were not. . This is doubtless the influence of movies - and perhaps "historical Novels" which is highlighted in the survey and which to be honest I found  less than wonderful .
 Can't think of a single movie that has made me want to game a period- and yes I'm a bit of a movie buff . The nearest would be the 2 verions of Henry V- but then I was already a medievalist who loves Shakespear so how much did that obtain,? Likewise historical novels- I have a few of the classics- Mist over Pendle springs to mind and of course Rosemary Sutcliffe but much of the modern stuff just leave me cold Cornwell gets samey after a dozen Sharpes and Scarrow is simply Sharpes Romans- I droppes out after 3 . They are just so wearisome and samey. The Matthew Hervey novels are significantly better- the language  is more precise and period for a start and Matthew Herey is no superhero but even they are getting a bit repetitive.
 No  apparently we must simplify to make it easier for the proles to understand. This is at  best patronising at worst downright insulting- but again we do this to ourselves. You keep buying the mags . Enough of you subscribe - and do it loudly - to the army list and points value crap.  Its your fault.  you ask to be spoon fed. .
Yet having said that the survey did point out that a good proportion of the readership  did still like to research their chosen period  so it's by no means all bad news. There are still blokes out there who subscribe to the "Compleatt Wargamer" idea(apologies to Isac Walton)  I was pretty pleased by this .
This is GOOD NEWS.
Perhaps we'll see the results of some of this research in the pages of the glossies instead of more droning on about how to roll a dice  or tedious scenarios for rules I've never heard of ......

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Next up from Drabant.

 I have recently recieved this picture from Nick at Drabant of the new Norman Crossbowmen set . Well up to the standard you expect from Drabant

Not really anything else to say here  except that I'll be getting stock in as soon as I can along with re-supply of otrher Drabant models in both 40mm and 28mm