Monday, 27 June 2011

The search for Reality- part 1

Descending to the Trivial

Now here we go again - while at War Torn last weekend I was given a copy of the latest Wargames Illustrated. I hadn't seen a copy for around a year for which I'm truly grateful. The magazine is bright, colourful and has plenty of very pretty- and some far from pretty pictures in it so style 7/10 - losing a few points for being a bit on the chavtastic side- I kept expecting page borders to be fake Burberry pattern- will succeeding issues arrive in a dayglo Vauxhall Corsa 2.4 with extra chrome?? .
Levity aside however upon perusal the magazine once again appeared to be written by and for the "yoof" market. "Its da gamin' innit" .. This size - in terms of page numbers is impressive but the content other than the pictures is almost nil. The depth of its triviality is spectacular. The distance between advert and articles is to all intents and purposes nil. Its a far far smaller magazine than it was in the Duncan Macfarlane era.
This got me thinking again - dangerous that ! Has our hobby become irredeemably trivial in its own eyes

Think about it most hobbyist in other fields don't view their hobby as trivial insofar as they practice it. It's something they enjoy at whatever level only we- as far as I know have a section of our practitioners who feel so insecure about what they do that they trivialise it perhaps as a defence mechanism. It has to be "easy" or "quick" or "simple" or some other weasel word that makes us less than we should be.
Now don't get me wrong I'm not in favour of permanently sweaty browed calculator wielding accountant-a -likes but neither does it have to bethe "bang you're dead" (with pretty pictures) that seems to be the norm in some quarters.
This - at least for me- ties in with a wider debate about "realism" in our games. Now the current discussion on the OSW group regarding the "Black Powder" rules has highlighted a few points upon what constitues "realism" for most of the debaters it seems to centre around how this games mechanism works or does not, but, in my view there are many layers of "realism" that we can put into the game before we get to mere rules.
Leaving aside the obvious one of model realism- are the toys painted and made up as their historical protoypes would have looked like - or if Fantasy does it have an internal logic of its own ? .
What you might term"organisational reality" - Could the units in your model army (or toy soldier collection) have fought in that time at that place in that manner(in those trousers!)?- This is more of a "does it feel right" question
At its simplist level that for me is "No macedonians fighting bloody Aztecs " but equally it could be no cavalry and infantry in the same brigade at that time in this place. Or perhaps - as it says in Black powder " Baker Rifles in the case of Britsh Napoleonic light infantry" (page 176)- this is twaddle they didn't . Light infantry regiemnts carried muskets Rifle battalions carried Rifles and is a small example of the simplfying to the trivial that seems to be current.
My point here is that - although many do know such statements to be twaddle other either don't or will seek to use it to ganin some trivial little advantge which simply would not occour had they been historically accurate. Another case- a custome recently bought a bundle of BMW motorbike combos for WW2 simply becase a loophole in his chosen rule- which may or may not have been FOW made these supertroops. "It gives me an advantage" he repeated ad nauseam. Being the chaps I am - an not really caring much I took his money and kept my gob shut but I did find it a bit sad nonetheless. However to be fair this chap wasn't claiming any kind of historical justification but simply wanted to score points off his mates - nothing actually wrong there then .
No I suppose my prime objection is that the simplistic lobby have the flooras its diffcult to argue with the "my brain 'urts when I fink" brigade because they trot out the "its only a game " liturgy over and over again like the responses at Mass.
And Finally- for the moment. Visual realism- a couple of pics of my collection King David has his correct Heraldry as does John Scymengour his standard bearer. The pikemen are from Denzil Holles Regiment of Foot in August 1642.A couple of months later and they would be a lot scruffier.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Fireforce 15 Miniatures.

I've long had an interest in "Bushfire Wars" - those post WW2and modern conflicts that still bedevil us. Those of the African continent being of more than passing interest.
I'd long wanted to take a closer look at the Rhodesian War where - however poor the cause - that small and undersupplied Army fought magnificently. So here at last are the first of the "troopies" in 15mm .
These are pics of the greens of the first couple of packs . Basically Moving group and firing group- each group having an FN mag as well as SLRs. An Alouette Helicopter is on the Drawing board - for both K car and G car roles as well as a Cessna. We already have a C-47 for the "paradaks" and a couple of packs of Old Glory African Irregulars for the "terrs" . Pick up trucks and plenty of Warpac/russian stuff for any "externals" you might wish to mount .
These will be available as soon as I can get 'em into production.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Durham Wargames Group Open Day.

8.15 on a slightly damp Saturady morning an Floating Jeff pulls up in his car to load the gear for the annual Durham show.
A samll event this so Old Glory don't trade as such- though we always take pre-orders for customers- the evnt is too small for us to get our trade stand in. No this is more of a "busmans holiday", we run a game at this very friendly show and as always its a pleasure to do so.So with my Umpire's white armband metaphorically in place we loaded up and awaited Garth then- ho! for Durham City and the Vane Tempest hall a one time Volunteer and Militia Drill hall. Good place for a wargames show.
Once there we set up and met Steve our 4th Player- Jim the Painter and Andrew cried off at the last minute due to work commitments so there were just the 4 of us. The game was to be "A sort of Fontenoy" basically just the middle bit from Fontenoy to the Bois de Barri and scaled to fit my collection. Not really a re-fight but more "use of the scenario"
Once we'd set up your author realised he'd left the box with most of the French Cavalry on the ****** packing table - Wrath and bad language ensued but not for long . After all this was a day off not work so relax man , take it easy dude !
Here follows the British OB .
His Britannic Majesty’s Army in Flanders.
Morning state
11th June 1745
Commander in Chief William Duke of Cumberland .+2

Cavalry Brigade. Commander Henry Hawley +1
1st Royal Dragoons 3 sqns. mv2 24figs 480 men.
Cobhams Dragoons 2 sqns. mv2 20 figs 400 men
13th Kerrs Dragoons 1 sqn.6 figs mv2120 men
Troop Horse Grenadier Guards. Mv 3, 3 figs 60 men .

The Foot.
1st Brigade Commander “Daddy” Huske +2
1st Foot (Royals) St Clair mv3 28 figs 560 men
3rd Foot (Buffs) Howard’s mv3 24figs 480men.
17th Foot Forbes mv3 32 figs 640 men
34th Foot Cholmondley ‘s mv3 32 figs 640 men.
1 light battalion gun to be attached to a designated battalion.

2nd Brigade Commander Brigadier Ingoldsby +1
36th Foot Fleming’s mv3 32 figs 640men.
50th Foot Hodgson’s mv3 28figs 560men.
87th Foot Kieth’s Highlanders mv3 28figs 560men
1light battalion gun which must be attached to either the 36th or 50th

1 heavy gun
2 medium guns.

Total British troops 1060 cavalry 4080 foot plus artillery and staff

The regiments and were not necessarily present at the battle-Scale as 30mm and all minis were either Old Glory or Jacdaw with asingle Eagle regiment and a scattering of Warrior "real" strengths are calculted at a 1-20 ratio.

Here is the "Dutch" OB actually mostly Hessians.
Forces of the United Provinces and the Landgrave of Hesse.
General Hertz van Rentals.

Garde Dragonder1 sqn 8 figs mv2 160men.
Hussars 1 troop. 4 figs mv2 80men

Dutch Infantry and artillery.
Gardes te Voet 24 figs mv2 480 men.
1 medium gun.
1 coehorn mortar.

Hessian Infantry brigade- British subsidy troops.
Commander FMH Claus von Konigsegegegeg.=1
Infantry Regt “Von Donop” 48 figs mv2 960 men
Infantry regt “von Konigsegegegeg” 24figs mv2 480men.
Fusilier regt “Von Schorthausen” 22 figs mv2 440men.
Combined Grenadier battalion 14figs mv3 280men

Free Companies 12 figs mv1 240 men.

Total Dutch and Hessian troops
240 Cavalry 2880 foot plus artillery and staff
OnlyVon Donop and the Dutch Guards are real - the rest are remnants of my Prussian army so the regimental names are - as you may have guessed ficticios for this game! The Dutch were a mixture of Old Glory Sash and Saber with a single regiment of Stadden.
and Finally the French OB

Army of the Meuse. Morning State June 11th 1745.
Commander in Chief Armand De Rochefort Duc de Brie +2
The Cavalry.
Commander. Auguste Chateaubriand ,Comte de la Plume de Matante +1
Cuirassier du Roi – 2 sqns. Armoured mv3 16 figs= 320 men
Fitzjames Cavallerie 1 sqn. Armoured mv3 10 figs =200 men
Chabriant Cavallerie 1 sqn . mv2 6 figs =120 men
Bercheny Hussars/Chassuers de Fischer 1 sqn.mv2 9 figs 180 men
The Foot.
Brigade “La Reine”
Commander General Remy Martin Comte Courvasier+1
Regt. La Reine 1st Bn. Mv2 24 figs 480 men
Regt. La Reine 2nd Bn. Mv2 24 figs 480 men
Regt Augverne 2nd Bn Mv2 24 figs 480 men

Brigade Piedmont.
General Jean deRicard Sieur de Pernod.+1
Regt Piedmont 1st bn mv2 30 figs 600 men
Regt Piedmont 2nd Bn(detachment) mv2 11 figs 220 men
Regt Royal Eccossais mv2 24 figs 480men.
Regt Auxerre mv2 16figs 320 men

Brigade Roth. The Irish Brigade.
General Patrick Murphy O’Guiness +1
Regt Roth mv2 (mv3 in melee) 28 figs 560 men
Regt Dillon mv2 (mv3 in melee)32 figs 640 men
Regt Clare mv2 (mv3 in melee)28 figs 560 men

Unbrigaded troops.
Arquebusiers De Grassin mv2 6 figs 120men.
Grenadiers de France mv3 42 figs 840men

3 medium guns
1 siege gun .

Force totals 5780 foot 820 cavalry plus artillery and staff
However with the exception of Fitzjame Cavallerie all the French hore were "lost on the road" - thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it!.
The French Army was again mostly Old Glory but with a couple of Jacdaw units and the Grenadiers De France were elite minis. there were afew Willies about !! The missing French Cav are also Old Glory and Jacdaw .I'd decided to put my Front Rank ones on the Bring and buy as they simply didn't fit in.

So after a quich Coffee and Bacon buttie we were off. Battle was joined. Rules were Warfare in the Age of reason with a good few local amendments - mostly doubling of ranges and halving of Artilley movements to bring the "spatial relationships" into some kind of order with a few other fiddly bits to discourage unhistorical tactics.
Steve commanded the Brits- a tall order for a chap who albeit a wargamer of many years was new to the 18th century and more especially new to the T.W.A.T.S way of doing things .
Liam- thats Garth to us- took the Dutch and Floating Jeff took the French. Your humble author was umpire and general pest.
The battle began with a French Cannonade and a Dutch advance againt "Nontenoy" . At first the Britsh approach was decidedly tentative though the Free Companies did enter the Bois de Pisse - possibly to divest themselves of the looted wine but, running up against the Grassins engaged in a firefight which they eventually won.
On the opposite Flank Von Donop advanced againt the village taking fire from the French guns therein and an enforeced moral check
"OK Garth " says I as umpire "3d6 score 6 or more and all's well "
Dice are rolled and up comes Snake and a Half - 3 ! Von Donop - still over 800 men strong retreat in consdierable dissarray. General Van Rentals- who had been accompnying the unit decided that the proximity of roundshot to his coiffure was too much and retired to a safer distance.
The french foot were also taking a bit of stick from the well served British guns and after considerable punishment Augverne broke and retired into Nontenoy- there to remain - sulking .
Now was the time for the british to mount a full blooded assualt but alas they were not ready. Kieth's Highlanders dashed in but after taking fire from the French guns and a couple of Volleys from the Grenadiers de France they retired cursing in Gaelic and reaching for the Talisker!doubtless wondering where their support was.
By now the Dutch assualt wave was going in .However fire from the houses of the Village as well as the French guns took a terrible toll and first Von Konigseggeggegg broke and then Von Schorthousen causing and army reaction and a general Dutch retreat covered by the now rallied Von Donop.
With the timely appearence of the Irish Brigade in the French centre there was little for the now outnumbered British to do but retire in good order covered by their cavalry. which due to the dilatoy umpire far far out numbered the French Horse.
By this time of course the show was dismantling itself around us- at least one trader fleeing precipitatly- almost "taking out" my camera in his hurry- bad cess to 'im!His Apologies being entirely absent .
The other games were largely WW2(not all FOW thank God) with a single rather nice medieval skirmish and apparently some GW game or other which I compleatly ignored.
Once we'd packed up we repaired to the Queens Head- a fine hostelry of my aquaintance -there to wrap my tonsils around a couple of pints of Black Sheep
All was then well with the world.
Safe to say We'll be going back next year . I always enjoy the Durham show small it my be but worh your time it is.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What is a Wargamer part III

Following on from Robbies remarks on the Independent Wargames Group blog- good blog that- I find myself sort of agreeing but then after a little though perhaps not so much. Its a delicate balance after all these days subtle debate is not in fashion its more a sort of "tis tisn't" style so beloved of the over simplistic media., In reality its NEVER that black and white- whatever the subject. Now personally I've always enjoyed the cut and thrust of adult intellectual debate which used to be a part of this hobby but alas is now pretty rare.
Now the assertion - very common now- that we are merely playing with toy soldiers is one of those statements that would bear looking at merely as a point of interest you understand. Now call me old fashioned but its only true on one level. On another it denigrates and infantalises what we do - especially as regards the "other stuff" already alluded to in earlier parts of this series. If you view yourself as thick go ahead ,fine I don't and have always considered our hobby to be for those of at least average intelligence or better but in the last 10-15 years I've seen a massive dumbing down of the mainstream as our little hobby descends from Wargaming to " its gaming innit" . Now don't misunderstand I don't CARE well not much - but I do regret and the acquiescence of many of us in this dumbing down is negligent in some ways-the simplification for the mythical "yoof" market - how bloody patronising I'd trell you to shove it were I a "yoof".
You are not thick just cos you are under 330 you know - we often now see Orwell like simple =good, complex =bad - not always true as if it ever was. I've become of the opinion that perhaps just possibly "the playing with toy soldier chaps" - in this context are rather more the defensive as regards the hobby - after all if you trivialise it and infantalise it, it must be harmless and you'll attract less opprobrium from the unknowing . Now that doesn't mean that we all have to be furrowed brow intellctuals all the time but we don't have to be dumbed down cretins either.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

What is a Wargamer part II

So contiuing more or less with my previous post I ask what IS a wargamer is he as I have found in the past a nerdy social inadequate who thinks Tolkien's world is real and often needs to stand closer to the soap or as I have found at least as often an Historically based polymath who knows his stuff and is willing to learn- and no those last are not mutually exclusive. Both of course exist but as ever the truth lies on average somewhere bewteen the two.Though the pernicious influence of fantasy based "gaming" is making the polymath somewhat endangered- at least on the show circuit. The major change in the hobby in the last 20 years or so has been from "model figure centic" to "rules and gaming centirc" or even more to "instant answers only" as if actually knowing stuff is harmful to your health. Oh and most of all no LAFFIN and lets have FUN in large letters of course which tewnd to mean IMHO Intellectually lightweight but deadly boring gaming innit where victory is all at the expence of style and knowledge. If our hobby was just about winning I'd play bridge or whist instead.
No its at least as much if not more about stuff other than the mere gaming and exactly what the "other stuff" is will depend upon the individual. For myself its about historical knowledge Toy soldiers, or models if you prefer and on gaming day a few beers with the lads and a larf or two but never submerging "the period" in favour of mnere gaming even with SCI-FI it has to have an internal logic of its own however daft.
So the 3 pics show some of my recently unearthed Sci - Fi collection
From the bottom up
Fidel Ernesto Guevara Smith President of the Republic of New Nevada on O'Toole's World wit his henchmen .
Middle One of the Dictators Robots- Call -me-Constable Collecting parking fines.
"But I only stopped for a minute"
Denzil Washington Snipoes and the resitance fighters of the Armed Revolutionary Socialist Executive prepare for another mission.

What is a wargamer.... ???? part 1

nO I'm not about to go all deep and meaningless on you but it does bear a thought or two. Now thankfully our hobby is a very broad church - even if I exclude the Dwarf fiddlers and Zombie strokers which of course I wouldn't ... resally even if its something I find a little odd amongst adults- even when consenting. Sorry but I just can't take Fantasy seriously even when I fiddled myself (and yes gentle reader I did -mea culpa mea maxima culpa ! but I got out of therapy years ago )I did it mainly for laughs the armies and games were full of daft puns and silly jokes and the whole thing was deliberately light relief- I had a gay dragon who would only eat male virgins! and a Jewish Vampire so the cross had no effect- not my idea this but Alfie Bass in "Dance of the Vampires". The human armies- my Grenadier late medivals with a bunch of character figs bolted on were the "human league"- lots of frilly shirts and dubious hair dos. Barbarians were all conanesque. Dwarfs were in 7 man units... think about it .Ideas were stolen left and right but whenver I ran a game at our old Games Workshop heavy club the outraged seriousness of the nerd brigade knew no bounds- now theese were not kids- my risque games were for grown ups- but knew how to act like 10 year olds. I even ran a game at a convention- based on a Conan story which was basically a bsattle between Conan and a bunch of Samurai .
Once again the bafflement and outrage- albeit at a more subdued level was palpable At this point I packed it in . The Fantasy suff was sold off- exit villain sneering. So now the only non historical stuff I have is an equally light hearted Sci - Fi set upo which owes nothing to GW but a fair bit to SF author Gerry Pournelle.
What made me cringe over the whole sorry farrago of idiocy was the idea than fantasy HAD to be of a certain type. I remember the debate in the late 70s early 80s in Battle and Mil mod - people were trying Fantasy because it was- in their eyes then -more free form and less complex. Yet afew years later this was no longer the case-AND fantasy had become as tired and anal as historical player were contantly accused of but in my expoerience were not.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Latest 28mm Moderns

Just arrived this morning from one of my sculptors is the British 50cal and crew for the Brooks miniatures 28mm Modern range . Following not very fast on the heels of the ANA packs relased ealier this year- or was it late last year time flies when you are having fun- these add to the Brooks miniatures range.
My own interest in post WW2 and modern warfare means that both the 28mm Brooks range and the "CDMODS" in 15mm will continue to grow. Not only that but watch the Firforce 15 label for more intresting stuff as soon as another sculptor has finished his current project..
The pictures show the 50cal team in both Front and rear views- made as black and white images simply becase they are clearer on the "greens" . I'll have these moulded up and in production as soon as maybe.