Friday, 18 December 2015

Lifes Rich Tapestry ....

So let's get a few things straight. 

 Someone once said "Life is a minestrone" (Actually it was 10cc- the rock band- a couple of whom went to my Grammar school - but several years ahead of me. Fallible memery says one of them was a prefect who gave me a clip round the ear and a detention for doing something nefarious- which I've forgotten but there you go. Part of the minestrone or indeed lifes rich tapestry).
 Which early digression doesn't prove much one way or the other but may point towards diversity, a nod to that famed rich tapestry and perhaps a way of life that back then was normal, now would be seen as positively primitive with anguished calls to Social Workers and threats of legal action.
 So what is my point- Life was better in the 70s?.
 Not a chance! Neither real life nor Wargaming life. In some ways it was freer certainly- Free Speech actually existed in the real world rather than being merely a concept you pay lip service to until you hear something you don't like. (Such as the calls to Ban Trump and Fury  because of their very unpalatable remarks (Doesn't Trump and Fury remind you of a bad Music Hall act of the Le Petomaine type!!). Personally I'm with Ian Hislop here- let 'em spout and then rip the piss- though he put it more carefully than that- but of course he meant present another view, argue your point. Discuss ,reason debate think, present a new argument. Something else that was actually encouraged back then- at least it was at my University. Though it has to be said that the first seeds of "Ban everything I disagree with"  was showing its ugly head by the early 80s if not before.. So paradoxically it seems that we now have many more ways of saying things - but far less to actually say. Hmm  Still trying to work that one out ....
 In our hobby as in life the idea of debate has become somewhat unfashionable. For me this is deeply unfortunate- now I'm aware that there are various forums out there but they all seem to consist of pissing contests between egos of varying sizes or collections of snide remarks by tossers who wouldn't dare say the same face to face rather than reasoned debate.
 I actually recall being ejected from one Yahoo group for NOT calling the "Lord Moderator" a Nazi- (but daring with others to discuss thing he didn't approve of- I was told "this isn't a Democracy" - "Well B******s to you" thinks I(exit Villain sneering!)
 Which once my ire had passed made me giggle rather more than somewhat. simply because of its sheer bloody arrogance.
Now here I adopt a different attitude and style- chaps can say mostly anything they want- as long as it doesn't break the law or frighten the horses!. There are comments on this blog that I disagree with and have angered me a tad(being accused of misogyny for one) but rather than delete them I of course let them stand- Free Speech is too precious for fits of pique- especially as it is becoming so unfashionable.. Of course you have to be prepared to put up with small- minded spite but Jeez! if you are in the Trenches you get shot at- Shoot back Dude/ Or as my Ethics teacher put it- Question everything!.
 Now for me that holds in our hobby as in life- think about it- Why are todays rulebooks so pretty- it is BECAUSE they have fewer actual rules in them?
 Why are identikit skirmish games so popular- when soldiers are cheaper than ever- I can think of several answers some all or none of which may be correct
 Why is the Sci-fant genre so popular perhaps 3 or 4 times as popular as "traditional wargaming"  especially when many of the games  seem to be far far more limited in scope than the open ended possibilities of the Historical genre?

Where did all the thinking go??

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Shiny Sawnies......

So finally another small unit for the "Shinyloo project takes shape. These are in therory the Gordon Highlanders
30mm Gordon Highlanders Waterloo campaign... sort of...

Purists will point to the kilts and shout Yah Boo Sucks doundtless but  they are as close as I can get - though the yellow overstripe is a tad on the vivid side.
A night out in Belgium....
Remebering the action of the 42nd at Quatre Bras made it obvious to set up a pic with thecurassiers mixing it with the GordonsNo doubt the Gordons are uttering the famous Scottis War cry - heard on many a field- at least by me- of
 See you!  Has ye mither got a sewin' machine- Tell her tae Stich THAT !"
"Getyfu-Ya Basa! " - usually when grasped by an enemy.

Highlanders are a mixture of Stadden- a couple of Minot and some Foremost and despite differences in height and style all live happily together.  .

Monday, 7 December 2015

Germany reunited Early ... almost

Saturday 5th december 1985 - well 2015 really but it was 1985 in the pub  where we meet- just for the day you understand.
 Theatrical Steve was in the chair and decided to run a Cold War goes Hot game in 20mm  scale using a variant of Rapid Fire. Now I've given  the origonal  of rules a proper kicking in the past so maybe I was just a tad dimayed.
 As it turned out my fears were almost groundless. Such issues as I had were quite minor.
 Forces involved were West Germans-(FDR)  with Leopards and  other assorted tasty hardware- including Marders and suchlike stiuff. Panzer Grenadiers with all sorts of clever tools hanging off them - Well Nice. Not to say Tasty ... and the East Germans of the DDR with all sorts of Russian Kit with which I'm more familiar. T- 72 T55  BMP 120mm mortars off table 122 mm Artillery   Hind Helicopters  etc etc.
 Needless to say I took the West Germans....
 Our objective was to hold a  rossroads vital to the East German advance- a full report of the action is on Tantobie Internet Tattler where there are some fine pics of Steve collection

I'll not  repeat the Comminist Propaganda  but suffice it to say I was on the whole pretty well impressed by the way the game ran. Steve did a good job even though Andrew Von Tekkmiester commanding the DDR forces  was uncannily jammy - until the last couple of turns- flying a Sagger down a narrow alley up one of my Leaopard 2s was  just beyond belief at one point I was doen to 2 operational Leopards out of 6  and it looked a distinct possibility that the Freedom loving peoples of the FDR would join the Workers Paradise of the DDR with all those big butch  lady shot- putters to keep 'em in line.
 However the sheer terror of this proposition got the panzer Grenadiers into action - pinching out the enmemy infantry lodgement and shooting up the DDR tanks with Milan Missiles.
 It was still looking distinctly iffy though until the DDR artillery spotter failed twice to establish comms with his off table 122 mm guns- which had he managed this would have sorted out my infantry good and proper. However he didn't so we were able to hold on to the objective by the skin of our fore as it were and sort of gain the day- sort of ....
The DDR approaches... Hordes of 'em ..
and Approaches .....
meanwhile the Good Guys sneak about in the hedgrows....
still sneaking ....

Normally for this kind of game we use  Combined Arms- which is, so I thought- a higher level of command - basic manovre units being companies of- say 3 or 4 tanks or IFVs . This game felt a lot more down and dirty with units representing squads or platoons- or so I surmised from the look of the thing. It transpired however that  each Marder with its 7 figure singly based squad represented a COMPANY. Now don't get me wrong but I'm afraid an infanrty company operates very differently from a single squad and had different tasks and assets.  This was a failure of the rules - though not as it happend the game. We both(players)  thought that the game played much more low -level that the  "command detactment" you get with Combined Arms was not there. However having said that, as a lower lever smaller action game it worked well  very much "bottom up" rather than the "sort of Top Down" you get with Combined Arms.
 I definitely fancy another bash and this lower level will suit my  15mmAfrican collection .....which will need beefing up a bit
Now both Andrew and Steve are more knowledgeable on modern stuff than I  so they did have a tendency to speak fluent acronymic of which I understood just over half. I even attempted to  put an ATGW up his FOO in his BDRM  but as was typical of this day didn't get the dice roll needed.
Mind you the fine Ale and Food more than made up for any dice malfunctions- it always does - Jean Once again our Thanks.
As it happens we had another prospective member visit our group-   . Now Paul is into re-enactment and is a member of several groups but freely admists to being a newbie at this wargaming lark- his only experience being several games of Bolt Action at another local "gaming group"  who actually may be the complete anitheseis of the TWATS- but I may be doing them a disservice. However from Pauls conversation it did deem that Bolt Action was the only vaguely historical game they semm to play- all the rest being SCI-FANT and the accent being very much on "the gamin' innit"  Their website(which I did check out) being all X-wing Warhammer  and 40k and other  knowledge -free  dice rolling contests with lots of Shazam Kapow  and very tournament heavy- so not our style at all.
 Now Paul -despite being a tyro wanted more historical stuff in his games and is busy building  Waterloo period Napoleonic British in 15mm with French to follow.
So it is of intrest to see how different ours and Pauls and indeed many bloggers views are from the those of the WSS survey. It's pretty obvios that - according to the survey competive  head to head plastic is in vogue currently - though I'm still unsure how 40k X-wing etc is "wargaming"- gaming certainly- miniatures gaming very probably wargaming ?? not sure as there have not so far been any wars involving X-wing fighters or Space Marines.... so the most popular periods don't actually exist .... what does that say about a good half of our ..."bretheren?"

Friday, 4 December 2015

Controversial MOI !!

So last Saturday saw the Battleground show in Stockton on Tees- in the posh bit with the pretentious street names "University Boulevard and "Council of Europe Boulevard" - Give me a break it looked like a cross between an outdoor shopping mall and an East German  Housing estate- but a good bit tidier.
 We got our gear in quite easily this year- Leon had got more doors opened and the whole look of the show was far better than last year with better games and better lighting.. There was little of the boutique games - Introverts R Us that was such a feature of last years show. I only saw one unplayed  'orrible board-gamey thingy - half a dozen plastic men on a card map- no-body there no idea what it was. Didn't care either.
 It was whilst I was checking out the Westerhope Clubs Colonial game one of their number claimed I was "Controversial"
 What little  Moi  !
 Of course the gent was absolutely right  both controversial and provocative. I hope that is part of the point of this blog , I think many of us take our hobby too much for granted and need to think about what we do and - at least some of the time WHY and just possibly articulate the why a little better- see Andrew the Tekkies new Blog- Tantobie Internet Tattler
 for his view on the lack of  articulation - not only in our hobby but in general..
 Personally I don't get this  what is so difficult about acting like a human? I know fear of public castigation plays a part in our hobby at least and that some blokes seem a bit shamefaced about what they do, but surely that is a hangover from past times. Or are we entering a new Intellectual Dark Age  where knowing ANYTHING  about anything - except perhaps the plot of a currently popular Soap- Opera - is seen as not  correct or appropriate.
 However back to the show. Actually it was a 3 hour event- the hours from 1 pm to 3 pm  were mostly dead. I could tell this simply because I was walking about instead of working. The hours 10am to 1 pm were not exactly hopping either but there were people in the hall - the stats apparently say over 400 - but not all at once- not including the demonstators and traders of course. I'm not convinced 200 yes 300 maybe but if 400 some must have only stayed for 15 minutes.

 Starting about 12.45 the hall emptied so fast I thought someone had shouted "Free Beer".

 Mind you the games looked good. I'd opine that overall  they were the best I'd seen at a North-East show this year and possibly last year too.. See various other blogs for photos including 2 on my blog list- Carry on up the Dale and the Independant Wargames group.  but there are several other reports about. All comment upon the quality of the games so it is needless for me to add anything here.

Yet there was a serpent in Eden.

To maintain the show  organisers need the Trade- after all our fees pay for the hall. I doubt- despite the opinions to the contrary that a show without the trade could fly- would the gamers actually pay a proportionate cost of venue hire or the  demonstrators?  Experience says not. Now I'm aware that some  non-traders think that we should just turn up so they can look at stuff  even going so far as to only take samples and little stock. I've heard it called a "Marketing Opportunity" this had some merit in a pre-Internet world but now?  Anyhow  how do you market to an empty hall ? And who pays?
 Now don't misunderstand here I don't expect to make money at every show some days are just not your day but it seems odd that for the past 2 years Battleground has been botton ranking show in my personal league. This year by a larger margin than previously - yet its predecessors in the same area were not always propping the rest up by any means  and, visually speaking, they were not as good looking and were often in far worse venues.
 So what is it about shows in that bit of England north of York but south of Berwick in the second decade of the 21st century.? I know I'm not the only chap who sees this-  other traders at the same event  had a far  worse day than I did- one chap taking less than 40 quid all day and another- who had not done badly the previous year called this show a "savage Re-adjustment". Others were expressive and more brutal r  but less eloquant!!
 Nevertheless shows in other parts of the land do not seem to suffer this- even shows of the same size- Falkirk for instance. Partizan has been suffering a bit but  that should change with the new venue. Salute and Donningtonat the other end of the scale, move on . York ,in the middle so to speak,  is splendid. Now obviously you get fluctuations up one year down the next - it can take a whikle for new stuff to move through the ststem- like  out new Napoleonic Transport range or the new Bavarians Swedes Saxons Danes and Wurtembergers- to which the Swedish and Danish Cavalry and gunners  available by the time you read this. .

 Are NE gamers wedded to workshop and similar kiddies games ?-
The evidence of the show games says not and that goes for all 3 of the NE shows I attend..
Yet I'm told 10mm fantasy is popular- never seen a game yet. (As an aside Why- if you are going to do Fantasy surely you want the WOW factor of big dragons and large well finished models that surely is the appeal of Fantasy- but if your WOW pieces are smaller than a 25mm cavalry figure don't you lose the point rather or is that just me??)
Having said that by no means all wargamers I know go to shows- several of the TWATS were working  and have to make arrangements to get to any shows and other blokes in different parts of the country do 1 or maybe 2 shows a year at most or even none.
 These are questions I pose rather than have answers to.
Equally  mail order to all points is steady- I do more business with Finland that I do in the NE and even those countries that had a far worse recession than we did are improving- business with Spain is up by 52% France and Italy  by about 15%. Even the USA buys ranges from me  that are not Old Gloryor that we produce here- like the aircraft for example.
 So why in the NE are we seeing lower show attendences?
Another point- most shows I do -especially those from York and South  I usually have pre-orders for. Chaps have made sure they get the stuff they want- and of course take advantage of our "6 for5" deal where they can. This does not often happen at NE shows- except Durham where we don't Trade .....???
Currently I'm not sure I'll go back to Battleground. If I do it will be with a smaller stand which means I'll have to leave stuff behind ....
 I'm going to have to think about this