Monday, 24 April 2017

Salute 2017- from the Trader's perspective

Now there is no getting away from it Salute is one of the most important single days in a Trader's year. I'm not saying that a bad 'un can stuff your year  no it is not THAT important but a good 'un can mean you can have some "Jam today" with your  usual bread and water. Mind you last year we had extra Jam so there was no way this year was going to match those dizzy heights.
 I knew this before hand- plenty of chaps had told me they were not going this year - reasons many and varied including "It is mostly fantasy now" and - often this- it's too bloody expensive what with parking and entrance you've dropped £30 plus before you are in -then the prices for cha and wads are ruinous .... so some chaps did not go.- they bought their gear by mail instead.
 Nevertheless we were still knackered by the end of the day and could afford to eat that night and even have a half of shandy to wash it down!
 Overall though I did get the impression that the show was having a slightly "off" year. No big deal, it happens.  No real surprise after the  very high point of last year. I don't think any of this was down to the organiser just chaps taking a breather. There certainly were far fewer European chaps about. I never had to do the "4 customers in 3 different languages at the same time" thing that has been a feature of more than one past Salute. Possibly because of their election, there seemed to be a lack of Frenchmen. I don't recall any Italians though there were several Spanish and some Germans.
 However  the Brexit nonsense makes you wonder if perhaps some chaps just don't feel as welcome here as they used to. It does make you wonder.
 I still didn't get a look round and saw no historical games that took my fancy on my couple of trips to the kharsi.. Indeed only at 1 Participation game did I linger. This being the Tring Club's 40mm Wars of the Roses game. A deliberately simple entry level  game  using my Romanoff Miniatures Warriors for the Working Day range. Now running a PP game is a skill I don't really have but this seemed popular and was well presented. Nice one Boys.
 Don't get me wrong here it is still the best gig in town but not this year quite topping their own hight standards.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Roses with Thorns.

Well that is  the hundred up. One hundred finished 40mm Wars of the Roses figure  finished and based. I've organised these in 6 "retinues" to wit Edward IV Warwick the Kingmaker, The Earl of Suffolk for the Yorkists and The Earl of Northumberland, Lord Clifford and the Earl of Oxford for the Lancastrians. Each retinue has a core of men in livery coats to which armoured men -at -arms and unliveried billmen and archers can be added as the scenario dictates.
 More are of course on the painting table- including conversion for a couple of gun crews.
 I'm enjoying this little aside- which by June and the Durham show will be a good bit larger. I quite like producing unique models- even though I'm no sculptor.

The Earl of Oxford's "Star with Streams"- though the precise appearance is somewhat conjectural.
There are now a fair number of conversions and chop jobs within the collection..

The first few of Suffolk's liveried men. Archer on the painting table.

Being in metal the parts are a good bit less fragile that plastic- larger too being 40mm . Makes life easier- very little hunting about on the floor for bits you have pinged off when cutting them from the sprue.

A small skirmish over a palisade with a mantlet. I built the latter for a still under construction gun. The palisades are by Irregular-supposedly for 40mm but a bit small. I may have to make some taller ones. 
So the project marches on. I've a 40mm waggon to build. That promises to be a challenge.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Catching up on my reading.

Now as a general rules I'm not a massive fan of "amateur" magazines either paper of e-zines. I'm never quite sure what they are about.
 I've read a few and have always ended up just a tab bemused as to why....
 So when I decidec to subscribe to a new e-zine I did wonder why I'd bothered.


Wargamers Notes Quarterly, once I actually got around to reading is does not come across like other publications of its "type". It is far far better than that.
 Now I'm not one of those chaps who expect  a whole magazine to be to their taste every time - and it isn't but that does not make it any worse. Indeed the variety of styles makes it rather the better.
 Point One.
 IT TREATS ME LIKE AN ADULT. Yipee no  childish patronising drivel here. There is an assumption that I can read long words without the use of my fingers and that I won't find any article of more than 1000 wordS too long for my brain.
Point Two
The first two issues (told you I was behind with my reading) are now on my reader and likely to stay there  

 The mix of articles gives you plenty to read  so far shows us that not all wargames are brain  dead one- hour 2 foot  square table skirmishes with 10 men a side. The chaps here have a terrible tendency to use their brains. My personal favourite articles include a re-fight of the Ruso-Japanese Naval battles of 1904-5  . I have small squadrons for this period in 1/600th and this series shows another way to do it. Never a bad idea to see alternatives.
 There is quite a lot of stuff on solo play- never one of my things but again  that does not stop the articles being readable though for myself the idea of taking control of the forces almost entirely out of the players hands is anathema- though in solo play I can see the point- assuming I could see the point of solo play which I never really have but then different strokes etc.
 Anice Sci- Fi "Narrative Campaign  article again gave me the odd idea or two - just get the silly sci-fi stuff out again it is time Denzil Washington Snipes tries to wrest power from Fidel Ernesto Guevara Smith- AGAIN !

Also it has to be said I like the look of this ezine- some care and thought has gone into the presentation.
 Nice one(well two) boys- I await the next issue with interest.
 for info on the mag contact
 wargamernotebook@gmail.com

worth a punt I'd say .

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Shining does not stop.

Although currently most of my figure painting has been 40mm Wars of the Roses - for our demo at the Durham show in June. I find myself unable to completely (albeit temporarily) abandon Shinyloo.
 I recently picked up a bunch of second hand Stadden 30mm models. These had been through the mill  and some were in a pretty shocking condition. "Painted"(or rather not) by a man who had done the deed with a 4 inch brush whilst wearing a bag on  his head.  These poor lads had then been abused and forgotten- possibly for decades before being rescued by yours truly. They all need a good bit of TLC but most of them can go - once restored -into existing units.
 I've already completed some of them adding to the 44th foot which now boast 2 whole "Charge" style companies plus a few over to start the 3rd which I may just have enough figures in hand for, though some need repairing.and a Battalion HQ. The Royal Scots Greys now has 13 completed figures with 7 more  in hand to do, but all of these need repairs. I've about a dozen Minot French Cuirassiers but all of them need carbine belts as Minot never bothered but gave them a carbine attached to a separate valise which means the weapon hangs from nothing at a silly angle- rather like our current Government. These belts will be made of metal foil- usually from bottles of Italian or Spanish red. I do like a decent Pugliese..
In the Stadden pruchase mentioned above was a single Mameluke. He arrived without plume or Sword and rather battered to boot. Now complete he will join the Chasseurs of the Guard.
 A Sergeant of Line Grenadiers. Plume ad bayonet added. The figure is a Stadden 30mm again in a poor condition when acquired.
I needed a Kings Colour for the 44th. Painting a Stadden standard bearer was the best option.  It was truly a bugger to paint but sits well alongside the Regimental colour. 
Colonel and Colours of the Regiment- all Stadden 30mm figures.
The unit as it currently stands. Effectively 2 Charge style companies. 

As for the French  I have a lot of Minot Imperial Guard and a fair bundle of Stadden but of Line Infantry only a few- most of the centre companies will end up being Hincliffe Foremost- still available but falling into my personal parameters for this project as they were first made in the 70s.. Nevertheless I will have to get some Suren Fusiliers but the "army" is going to be very Imperial Guard heavy simply because the secondhand and restored figures are principally Imperial Guard.
So this project moves on - still slowly - but the first game- using "Charge!" will be this yearas there are now well over 200 completed figures.
 But first I have to get the 40mm Wars of the Roses game for the Durham show in June sorted- more of that in my next post.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Anodyne phrases of advertising blurb.

What is it with so called "professional" organisations these days. You ask 'em a question and they fob you off with bland gobbledegook interspersed with a lecture on how wonderful they are- designed to leave you feeling that if YOU don't think they are wonderful it must be your fault.
Let me explain

Last week I received my copy of Miniature Wargames- the one with the Salute programme in it.  Now this has nothing at all to do with the magazine which was well up to scratch but rather with an advert placed within the Salute programme for the Derby Worlds show in early October.Which has a new ordganiser.....
 Seeing the advert I thought all was well. So imagine my discomfiture when a bare 24 hours later I received an email with the trade stand application form to find that
 a/. the venue had been changed- so was not the one in the advert.
b/. the stand price had risen by almost 20%
c/. almost no explanation was given for the above except to say that "the new owners of the old venue had decided against hosting large events"

Now the new venue-Hanger 42 at Brintingthorpe Lutterworth Leicstershire actually looks pretty good being large and spacious though somewhat out in the sticks which may prove problematic for some (I've so far found no mention of public transport links) and I'm told- not by the organisers that nearby accommodation is thin on the ground so there will be travelling.
 Now I understand that the organisers may have been put between a rock and a hard place but do they say any of this NO we just get how utterly splendid the new venue is and how utterly wonderful it is all going to be provided we all toe the line.

Now as it happens I had a question to do with stand prices and layout as the form was not entirely clear so  I emailed them and did I get an answer - well sort of but again couched in advertising BS which I found infuriating after all I've only been in the trade for 26 years and I know nothing (except the smell of bullshit when it is being spread)


 So whats a chap to do? Well my usual 18foot frontage stand has gone up to £440 and others are of course in proportion. I know of 2 past traders who have told me they are not doing it and I don't blame them.. The likely turnover is such that - with other expenses factored in  (you are spending well over a grand before you have sold a soldier)- that  even breaking even is a risk let alone making a few quid.
 So this year- assuming I attend- still the most likely- I'll cut my stand to 12 feet and only take the 15mm and 10mm ranges. Customers will need to pre-order any 25mm stuff. Now as it happens the majority of sales for the past couple of years have been Blue Moon 15mm so it may not be a bad move and it will save me about £400 or so as I'll drop a staff member too. as there is not room for 3 behind a 12 footer.
 Now I'm still thinking about this but I'm certain that the new broom has not swept cleanand that a new venue- however pretty- won't solve all the problems especially if the punters can't get there but mainly  trying to paper over the cracks with bullshit does not work - well not here anyway.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Small action between York and Lancaster

Yesyerday saw the gathering of the T.W.A.T.S. for the March meeting at our usual haunt and watering hole. As I mentioned in the previous post the game was to be a 40mm Wars of the Roses encounter.
 I decided to use Tony Clipsom's "Foray" ruleset for the reasons outlined in the previous post.
 I've concluded that  my biggest bitch with the whole rampant system - the 2 versions I have being Lion Rampant and Pikmans Lament- is organisational  rather than the actual "game mechanisms". But having said that I realise as I type that in those 2 sets the silly non-historical  organisations are PART of the game mechanism  which for me makes a total non- starter when those organisations are as ridiculous (in historical terms) as the "Rampant" ones are. Obviously medieval small unit organisation - laregly decimal . The English for example had under officers called Vintenars (leader of 20) and cantanars (leaders of 100) and of course there were companies of 20 or 50 in other armies as well as the smaller "organisations" of lower retinues- so the base everything around 6 and 12 whilst saying almost in the same breath that one  model soldier is one man is of course total cobblers. The same basic premise holds for lament and no 17th century organisations were NOT based on 6 and 12  though it holds slightly better here than in the medieval period since quite often  in the ECW a "file" was actually 6 men- though sometimes it was 8 or 10 men to the file. Of course that did not always obtain in other armies.
Shaun site behind his Yorkist forces drawn up on their hill. 

So putting away various forms of Rampant we move on to Foray which  is far more flexible organisationally speaking and yet overall is about the same complexity level  having quite a retro feel to it.
 Present for the game were 4 members Myself, as Umpire. Theatrical Steve , Mechanical Shaun and Andrew the Tekkie. Table set up was two roughly parallel ridges running more or less diagonally across the table separated by a valley with a road running through it down to a river which as it happened never featured in the game.  The Yorkists under Shaun drew up in one body on the larger and higher of the two ridges.. The Lancastrians were in 2 bodies of roughly equal size one commanded by Steve and the other by Andrew- Andrews force was drawn up on the smaller ridge and Steve's in the grounds of the small manor house.

Part of the Lancastrian array under Steve. 
Along Archery dual  ensued after it bacame clear that Shaun was nailed to his ridge. He concentrated on Steve's troops . This allowed Anrew to shoot him up a bit without relpy and in the end some truly bum dice meant that he lost about half of his archers with comparatively small loss to the Lnacastrians.
The other Lancastrian wing under Andrew.
The Hand of Shaun - descends from the Heavens to advance for the crunch. 

Now the Lancastrians advanced and having little choice the Yorkists moved towards  Steve's contingent.. A fierce melee in the centre resulted in Shaun's leader taking a hit but refusing to yeild. However morale results fored a halt on the Lancastrians so Shaun broke contact as  his right retreted andAndrew came up to outflank him. With only his left wing more or less intact - but a little outflanked Shaun conceded the game.
Headless theatrical Steve ponders as the Yorkists advance. 
 The outflanking move goes in - Job done for the Lancastrians. 

Now this was a pretty short game by our standards lasting a little over 2 hours of actual play- with breaks for hot Pork Butties and chips- and beer and an overlong set up time simply because I was winging it and had prepared nothing as I expected to be playing in an AWI game. However Jim had been called to work at the last minute I was suddenly in the chair.
 Despite this all want well and with a bit of tweaking these rules could be really tasty. Indeed there may be other versions about by now as I got these from a  Yahoo group some few years ago and the file says "test version 1.1 "
 Nevertheless I'm much encouraged by this game and want another bash with more troops.
 This will happen at the Durham show on June 11th this year for certain- but maybe we'll get another game in before then.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Rampant Foray?

 I've been dropped in it at very close to the last minute so instead of being 15mm AWI the next T.W.A.T.S  game will be 40mm Wars of the Roses  That will be tomorrow. First time out for my 40mm collection in this period and a good chance to test 2 alternative sets of rules. Even if I do have to wing it a bit.
 Tony Clipsom's "Foray" and- though I hate to say it "Lion Rampant."
 Now on reading my preference is for Foray as it actually assumes you are an adult and has at least some flavour of small scale medieval warfare. They are simple but not simplistic and very open ended. Unit sizes are elastic and there is no straitjacket of a points system. Almost the very opposite of Rampant. They may actually take some thought.
The first of Lord Clifford's retinue.
 I've been adding figures to this collection on and off for a while so that now I'm just a few short of 100 finished models with more on the painting table.

Edward IV retinue- well the first batch anyway. More to do of these.

I'm pretty chuffed with how they are coming out. iI have the Earl of Suffolk's men on the go too. Not having to stick to a hidebound set of rules means I can do whatever size units and groups I like rather than the 6 or 12 of Lion Rampant. Flexibility is the key.

These chaps will of course be added to each retinue as needed as leaders or characters.


So we will see what tomorrow brings.  I'll let you know of course.

Close up of the various Knights and Men-At Arms. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

In the "Age of the Games Designer."...

There has - it has to be said- something of a gap in my blog posts. There are a couple of reasons for this
 1/. After a slowish start March has gone mental.  The NEW Blue moon ECW range - absolutely wonderful stuff even though I'm  biased-  is selling well the new cavalry and guns are really nice.
 and
2/. Perhaps more to the point. I couldn't think of anything to say.
 Now I hear gasps of disbelief from my Gentle readers. What Big Andy not opening his face to give forth? Has he died ?Does the Sun still move in its wonted course?
 Well yes all is well. It is simply that I'm perhaps having a small bout of wargaming boredom.
 But having said tht see my previous "The past still blasting" and go to the link for Tantobie Internet Tattler  Now on that fine blog you will find a post "Blast from the Past", at the end of the post one of the comments by "Norm"  said  of older magazines

In the first instance, the magazines were the fabric or the glue of the gaming community, especially those not involved with a club. They were the beginning of people by example showing others how to do things in a better way. They did give a strong sense that they were written by wargamers for wargamers. 

 Now I'm not sure I completely agree with that though there is no doubt that magazines were more important back then- Some of the writers were not wargamers- this especially true of articles in  Military Modelling , Airfix Magazine ,Battle and later - to an extent Practical Wargamer.
But also

 that the hobby was actually already pretty sophisticated back then and in that regard, those magazines can still have a modern feel re their content.

 That latter comment set me thinking. For a start, in my view, the hobby has lost much of it's past sophistication- at least as far as much of the "mainstream" is concerned. Of course it depends upon what you mean by sophistication.
The articles in  the magazines  of the 70's and 80's were often significantly more sophisticated and had more depth  that the frequently shorter simpler pieces that are printed today. Rules were frequently more sophisticated than many of today's simplistic offering. Try comparing the 1978 medieval skirmish set "Retinue" with the  child like simplicity of Lion Rampant. or WRG's 1685-1845 set with say "Black Powder"  or  "Firefly" with "Bolt Action" .
This of course is not to say anything about "better" or "worse"  or even Norm's holy grail of commercial success. Let's face it some 1970's rules were almost unplayable and production values were certainly less sophisticated as there were no pretty pictures. But I'm not always sure that today's market is any more sophisticated or  discerning that that of the 70 and 80s. Different yes , more fractured yes and of course the influence of Fantasy and Sci-Fi  "gaming" has been huge and not always to the good.
 If anything  the "game designers"  of this genre have a lot to answer for as Richard Clarke points out in his piece "Sigmoid Curve" in WSS 88. I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with his premise and not simply for WW2. There is a lot of twaddle uttered by "game designers" - who seem to be a different breed from old fashioned "rules writers" . I'd put it like this a "game designer"  wants to design a playable game he can sell and all sorts of stuff will be subordinated to that end. A rules writer wants to produce a set of rules for a given historical period. that reflect warfare in that period. Now obviously there are shadings here Mr Clarke for instance calls himself a games designer but places himself firmly in the historical camp and backs this with evidence citing his set "Chain of Command" which I have not played but have heard lots of good things about from chaps whose opinions I respect.
 We are now in the "Age of the Game Designer" where it appears that the game is far far more important than anything else- except the sales figures of course. Otherwise why would so much lightweight crap even exist, often seemingly re-cycled in a prettier box at a higher price.
 Now I will take issue with Mr Clarke over one point. He blames the lack of realism in many rules on companies who wish to sell lots of toys that players can put on the table all at once and since these companies also sell the game rules .... then draw your own conclusions. Now I'm not saying he's wrong but tarring all model companies with the same brush is somewhat out of order.
 Old Glory for example do not really produce rules or games. We are a Model Soldier company. Most of the rules we sell come from other sources or are very period specific.. We view then as an adjunct to the soldiers rather than as an engine for selling soldiers. There are a good bundle of Soldier Companies in our world who do not make games at all. The "games company" is one of the unforseen circumstances of the Sci- Fant influence. The "Official Miniatures" line  and similar marketing tripe has had perhaps a pernicious influence out of all proportion in the minds of some of our brethren.
 So MARKETING is far more sophisticated than it was in the 70s and 80s so we come full circle back to the original point, But is marketing all there is to our hobby- I leave that answer to you Gentle Readers.



A little later.
 I've just seen Perry's latest- "TravelBattle"-  on TMP Good Grief! now we have 8mm plastic figures on a pre-coloured pre-everything plastic board. Why  do we need this. I can see that it will add  to God's Anointed Perry's bank balance but if you are that sad that you "need" to take something like this on your hols  for a "gaming fix" then  you may need medical help- or perhaps if you work away - as I did you can play with yourself in your hotel room (and yes all smutty puns intended.) You still may need medical help.
. This feeds directly into the ideas noted above Yet more "Wargaming Lite" at the expence of Featherstone's "intellectual pursuit".
 and no I won't be spending over 50 notes on such a box of twaddle.
 Any spare Nifties I have about the place will be spent on useful stuff such as a third leg......

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Past- still blasting .

 Found a very interesting post on my good friend Andrew the Tekkies blog this morning
http://tantobieinternettattler.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/a-blast-from-past.html

Now Andrew is somewhat younger than I or most of the rest of our group and I found his views on the earlier manifestations of our hobby fascinating. I've already commented on his blog so rather than repeat myself I'd  advise chaps to go and have a butchers.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Rearguard action at Utterly Edge

So there I was setting up the table for the latest T.W.A.T.S meeting yesterday when it cam to me. A question. Why are some wargamers so bloody boring? It must be in the genes- we all do it from time to time especially when riding our own pet hobby horse. Now I'd just had the latest WI drop on the mat and frankly it is tedious  full of "rules spotlights" and sycophantic twaddle about how wonderful the new Perry western desert stuff is. The whole mag was an exercise in product placement. Now you'd expect a bit of that but somehow this issue went over the top. There were a couple of interesting bit- making tents in 10mm and some nice stuff on the last weeks of the Reich - focusing on the Panzer Test facility and its extempore Panzer company. I would have liked more of this  However overall the tone was pretty childish again or rather patronising. It  sometimes seems to me as if the various writers would rather be thought "cool" than educated. Sorry to say this but this is the unforseen, pernicious influence of  SCI-FANT specifically GW and its fanboys and copycats. Even Henry Hyde's column- actually quite thoughtful -has pictures of bloody Airfix all over it.
 What is this bloody obsession with childhood
 This is all a long way from the "intellectual pursuit" that Featherstone aspired to in Advanced Wargames. And by God it is so repetitive and boring .

However back to the plot. I was in the chair for this month's game so I decided on a follow up to the Battle of Shyterly Moor -see earlier post-  I thought I'd use Pike and Shoote for the game this time as I'd had them a while- even read them- but not actually played.
 Time pressure meant I never made specific briefings but no worries I thought  the forces are all in their boxes and aside from detaching a couple of units frOm the Parliamentarian side to simulate losses from the previous engagement  all was set.
The field of battle before anyone turned up.

By Gum You could lose the will to live trying to find stuff in Pike and Shotte- what a faff- even though I 'd read them- and yes bits READ very well. Playing was so bloody slow with all that IGOUGO each player issuing orders 1 at a time by the end of move 1 we had terminal ennui.
 So I switched to  faster set.... WRG....  Well it was the only other set I had to hand.
The Royalists advance.

The actual enagagment was a follow from the Battle of Shyterly Moor  on so the Roundheads had troops deducted to simulate campaign losses- their Cuirassiers had a proper smacking last time out so declined to play this time as had 1 of their foot regiments. However they were reinforced by 2 more companies of militia shot and a couple of guns.
Royalist Horse and Dragoons bimbling about. 

 They had a distinct terrain advantage as I decided to base the scenario loosely upon the battle of Adwalton moor, so the Roundheads had a hedgeline to defend which, while gapped in parts was a significant obstacle to the somewhat more numerous Cavaliers.
Floating Jeff took the Cavaliers and Jim and Shaun the Roundheads
 Quire quickly after the tedious first turn the game became a right slogging match. Strange to say but the roundheads kept about half of their shot in reserve and the brunt was born by the 4 D class militia musketeer units. They stood to it manfully. Giving at least as good as they got and often better.
 The battle developed into a long firefight with only the superior Royalist Artillery giving them any kind of edge.
The Parliamentarians sit safe behind their hedges

 As the afternoon wore on  a unit of royalist horse finally put in a charge against some exposed roundhead shot and after a 2 move fight sent them packing and pursued- only to be hit by the Rounhead horse and sent off in turn. The better controlled roundheads did not pursue and this allowed Jim with the Roudhead right wing to break contact and beat an orderly retreat declaring that he had done enough. The rest of the Rounheads followed suit albeit in a somewhat more disorderly manner abandoning guns and baggage.
The Royalist horse finally make a move. 

 The Royalist - having had a stinging slap in the face contented themselves with collecting more abandoned Roudhead guns and more importantly enough powder for another battle.
 The Roundheads fell back on their fortified base at the town of Utterly.
 But nest time we'll use Forlorn Hope ....

Friday, 10 February 2017

A News size for the ECW

Now that a good bit of the new Blue Moon English Civil War range is available, I've been trying to work out what I should do for myself using it.
 I've had ECW armies on and off since 1977 and these days, and for the last decade it is probably overall my favourite period for modelling, collecting and wargaming. I've around a thousand painted models in  2 distinct collections plus about 100 or a bit less in 40mm- though some of these last are more strictly 30 Years War.
 Nevertheless in all this Pike and Shotting I have never done anything in 15mm- until now.
 All right a mere 14 figures isn't much but its a start and there are more on the painting desk.
 So here are 3 pics of the first fruits of a possible 15mm ECW project which if I continue will be the New Model Army expedition to Flanders and the Royalist Army in Exile with Spanish and French regiments for each side as well.
 Will I get that far. Only time will tell.
15mm Parliamentarian General. 
I know I'm biased but I do like these little dudes.

New Model pikemen in 15mm. The flags are handpainted ,made from wine bottle foil. 
and finally for the moment.
Officer in Ciurassier Armour from the same pack as the first picture.

I should have more packs from this range available in March- the guns and the Horse.  Irish and Scots should be along later.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

To Lament or not to Lament !

The other day I received in the post a copy of the latest Osprey Games booklet "The Pikeman's Lament"  from that very efficient outfit  The Wordery an ebay bookseller I've used previously. Costing me a mere £9.65 including postage  this looked like a bargain and it terms of the physical appearance of the book it was
 Then I looked inside and all my illusions were quite quickly shattered.
Now as you know I'm a bit of a 17th century nut- mainly ECW but not entirely ignoring other wars of that tempestuous century either. It follows that any set of rules purporting to depict conflict from that period is going to interest me. The active phrase here is "purporting to depict".
 The basic idea is actually pretty good- these are no rules, or perhaps I should say this is not a game, for refighting large battles. In theory it depicts the small war of outposts , minor actions and skirmishes that were a major part of much 17th century warfare. And so it does.... well sort of... maybe a bit anyway ..
There is some good stuff here most especially the almost role play of the officer selection process but each "Company" is only allowed 1 officer (and no NCOs) so an historical command structure is not allowed despite the fact that the officer character starts as an ensign- the lowest commissioned rank of the period-
  It is pretty obvious that the authors are very prepared to butcher the actuality to achieve their desired results- these being a "set of simple and fast moving miniature wargame rules" . An awful lot has been subordinated to these objectives.  Period organisation, period formations, period weapon handling, period drill   and period terminology have all been given a proper kicking to make them fall into line with the authors "game". Now in some cases this is necessary . I suspect that these rules will handle small scale cavalry actions rather well assuming you can live with tiny units and non period organisations but the points based organisation places  quite a bit of "negative freedom" on the system especially as the points system is also part of the morale mechanism.
 A couple of examples
 In these rules a "forlorn hope" is a troop type rather than a military decision. So I'm tempted to ask can you use a forlorn hope as a forlorn hope ?? Well yes actually  in the game the term actually means "small elite foot unit" rather than  the advanced party  ( of either foot or horse as the situation demanded)   the term was actually used to indicate.

Dragoons- now anyone with a basic grounding in the 17th century military art knows that dragons were mounted infantry who dismounted to fight. Here the term is used to indicate any type of  mounted firearm cavalry as well as traditional Dragoons -no distinction is made Dragoons do not have to dismount to fight. They do not have to act as their historical namesakes did.

This misuse of terms is at best misleading for the newcomer, which you would think that  this limited ,tightly organised and rather narrow focus game is aimed at. Let's face it if you are into 17th century warfare and know anything at all about how operations were conducted then this game will make you laugh- especially if you are not already a wargamer.

 Also for the type of warfare these rules are intended to depict 2 of the troop types available would have been a distinct rarity and possibly - for certain of the given scenarios absent altogether- Pikemen and Artillery. In accounts of the various types of outpost warfare of the period I have Pikemen are rarely if ever mentioned. Artillery more as an objective than a unit- besieged garrisons would sally out to destroy or disable the besiegers guns if they could as at Basing House and Lathom house to cite just 2 examples.
 Also this "game" is very dice heavy. Everything requires a dice roll  moving, firing, reaction, orders, casualties  and morale. Dice rolls are substituted for decision making. Great if you are 12. You might lose the will to live if you are an adult.
 However above all else what really really gives me the hump in these rules is the unit structure. There are only 2 unit sizes 12 figures for some foot and 6 figures for all Horse and Dragoons and the remaining foot and gun crews. Why this should be so is never explained so despite the fact that we are told 1 model represents 1 real soldier (so what the hell use are 12 pikemen - a mere 2 files for much of the period. Why would they be involved in "outpost warfare" ). You get the distinct impression that this is done because the authors favourite toys are sold in  factors of 3 or 4 or 6  or more likely that the system was lifted straight from the very un-medieval medieval "game" Lion Rampant without benefit of actually  looking at 17th century warfare.
 If you want a quick  simplistic "game" with a very little 17th century flavour and an awful lot of dice rolling.  A game that is quite heavily structured so you don't have to do anything as radical as thinking for yourself. A game that assumes you know nothing and doesn't bother to enlighten you then this is for you, straight from the booklet.
 If you want a game of 17th century outpost warfare then these- after a good butchering may do the job but straight from the book they are just another same old same old  skirmish- a- like.  Frankly I could go on about poor points such as no weapon differences- despite the fact that these were viewed as important at the time (don't for instance use matchlock muskets for either sentries or night operations if yo can help it) but this is the kind of stuff the interested player  or umpire can put in at need and IS nit-picking. Nevertheless the overall impression is that the authors have striven mightily to do as little as possible to produce a sequel to lion rampant- which wasn't that good anyway and in doing so have for me dropped the ball somewhere near the halfway line .... sort of a grudging 5/10

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

No rest for the Wicked- again ...

Last Sunday - 5th Feb  saw the York club show Vapnartak come around for 2017
 Now I can't say a massive amount about the show as I was too busy to see much of it. For me at least it was at least as busy as last year and very probably somewhat  busier. Buckets of assorted Blue Moon 15mm seemed to flow over the counter backed up by  True North WW2 and Command decision. A fair few 28mm in various period also moved across the table in exchange for the odd portrait of Her Maj. Spent a useful few minutes chatting to John Treadaway Editor of MW about lead in times for reviews and other info..
 A very brief look at the games on the ground floor- I never made it upstairs this year- frankly did not inspire. There were a few good lookers but I'd seen them before and no-one seemed willing to talk- not that I tried that hard since I seemed to have spent most of the day chatting to customers and wearing out my vocal chords
 One thing I saw jarred rather badly. It appeared to be a demonstration of the new Airfix based game from Modiphius - back to introverts R us I thought, paper map laid out on the bare table a few bits of plastic scattered about on it . Introverts mumbling away behind their hand of cards. Just the thing for a club night for the average social misfit.
 Now if Modiphius were behind that display(I do not think they were) they need to get a new display team. If it was a club trying to get you interested in the game and in them.... they need to get a new display team. This kind of thing is the very antithesis of everything I love about the hobby- also somebody around that table needed to stand closer to the soap. Why would any interested party actually bother with that shambles? Or indeed with any of those display games that do not bother to have a talking head or two to engage with their potential punters. I really sometimes think that the only reason some clubs do demos is so they can get into the show for free.
 Now I do know that there are plenty of clubs who are NOT like that at all and give a chance will talk your ears off- which of course is exactly as it should be.Mor Power to Their Elbows!!
 Dropped a few quid at the ever helpful Coritani Miniatures  stand on some paint and brushes and picked up a history of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in the Napoleonic Wars from Dave Lanchester. The long quotes from contemporary sources are really useful. There is no substitute for reading the words of the blokes that were there.

Nevertheless I enjoyed the event as I always do there are still plenty of "proper" wargamers out there of all ages by no means all of them are memebrs of Introverts Anonymous


Oh and a sort of PS-The prices for some non- historical stuff are getting even more ludicrous than formerly  10 quid a single figure- often in resin - is no longer unusual and 4-5 quid each quite common Mind you if you WILL play kids games with 3 men a side .....

Monday, 30 January 2017

Essential Reading

When I was at school (when they still had flogging) there was a teacher  who opined that any boy who had not read 20 books in a term was by his own fault a dullardand a cretin (the B*****D'S favourite term of dissapprobabation) . Now this old bugger was out of date even in the 1970s and didn't specify what kind of books these should be though he did quiz us on what we had read... so I kept quiet about my "Victor Book For Boys" and told him about  Rosemary Sutcliffe, Arthur Ransome and R. F. Delderfield (this last chap not only being a quite tedious novelist wherein  I spent a tedious couple of days as an extra in a TV adaptation of  his "To serve them all my Days"  but a not half bad Napoleonic Historian- Try "Imperial Sunset" and "The March of the Twenty- Six"  a bit dated now perhaps but worth a read.) The point her of course being that I got away with it unlike some of the less literary members of 3E who - poor slobs- had to endure a bawling at which if it happened today  might have involved the appearance of Child Protection !

 Ah Happy Days .... 

B******s.

However the other point is that even at that tender age (13)  I read books that didn't always have pictures in and I didn't use my fingers to follow the long words. This has stayed with me. The literary side of our hobby is important to me but not only within the hobby.
 What started this train of thought was  re-reading Helene Hanf's splendid  84 Charing Cross Road a wonderful little book made into a splendid film with Anthony Hopkins . It caused me to ponder upon essential Reading that did not include wargaming or even military history.
 Shakespear is obviously near the top of that list and a bit of Jane Austen can do you no harm.. I love the precision of the language. I may get pilloried for this but I could never get on with Dickens you can shove " A Sale of Two Titties" where Rev. Spooner  would not want it to go! I do quite like Dorothy Parker- again brittle humour combined with pathos and on our side of the pond Evelyn Waugh- though it has been a good few years since I read any. I still look in at P.G. Wodehouse- I have 4 volumes of his stuff  with more to get- for light relief.  Of poets T.S.Eliot, W.B Yeats and Robert Frost spring to mind. All these dudes are of course "SERIOUS LITERATURE" as distinct from the more popular sort that most of us read
 So a question.
 What serious literature do chaps read if any  and also therefore what do you consider to be serious literature 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Upcoming from Raven Banner.

Stephen Huckaby- the Man from Rave Banner Games  sent me these 3 pictures of his upcoming releases which, as soon as they are available, I will be adding to the OGUK product list.
 Hopefully I will have these in time for Salute on April 22nd

You don't often get figures in  greatcoats or foul weather gear- yet warfare did go on in the rain .....


I wonder if his bugle is full of water ? 
I realy do like the look of these- even though I don't do ACW in 28mm - don't really do it at all any more. The 40mm have not been out of their boxes for 3 or 4 years. However these lads are tempting my paintbrush.

Nice Officers. 
I'll have the intitial group of Raven Banner releases at Vapnartak on Feb 5th  but also see them  on the OGUK  website

http://www.oldgloryuk.com/28mm-american-civil-war-(rbg)/55/241

 or if in the US on Raven Banner's own site
http://shop.acwgamer.com/

It will be intresting to see how this range and company develop.


Friday, 20 January 2017

In Time for Vapnartak at York.

 I'm currently unpacking 11 crates from the USA- which incidentally are costing me a grand more than the same order this time last year- not in US dollars of course but in post- Brexit not as good as they used to be pound notes. However it is still cheaper than trying to produce the stuff in the UK what with business rates and local council kickbacks and rent for premises (which is outrageous)and VAT  which adds more costs so despite the current burst of lunacy I'll keep at it.

 so new stuff for York
 Top of the list will be those splendid Raven Banner Games ACW figures mentioned in the previous post
 Also a couple of new packs of Sash and Saber ACW.- Frock coated Confederate Infantry. The Sand S  range now stands at over 50 packs
 There are also some new Blue Moon ECW packs - but not the guns which did not seem to be included in the shipment- I've added them to the next order.
 More Napoleonics in the shape of more late Saxon Hussars and Artillery crew both horse and Foot
 so about 17 or so new packs for York- more than some dudes have in total
 Oh and all the normal stuuf- the ECW range and most of the Saxons have never been to a show before .....

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Raven Banner Games

Raven Banner games are a new- to me- American  company just starting to produce some really tasty 28mm ACW. I am now  selling these in the UK and Europe.
 The first 7 packs are up on the website
http://www.oldgloryuk.com/28mm-american-civil-war-(rbg)/55/241

Personally I think they are some of the best ACW figures I've seen.
They have a slightly  scruffy campaign look to them very reminiscent of the photographs of the period, but are splendidly sculptedand have good anatomy and movement.
 So far there are only the 7 packs- 3 vignette sets and  3 unit packs depicting the 33rd New Jersey in their rather badly fitting "chasseur" uniforms imported from France. The 7th pack is an extra set of command including a mounted officer.
 More packs will be added including some Infantry in greatcoats which look splendid and I'll show them to you when I can
 However for now here are a couple of pics of the 33rd New Jersey chasseur types.







 I do like the clever touches such as the chaps with his pack on the ground near him and the mixture of dress styles.


Sunday, 15 January 2017

An army marches on its stomach.

Now this post has nothing at all to do with Wargaming but is rather about my other minor passion - Cookery. Yes actually making meals for myself and Carole that don't come out of a packet and have never seen a bloody microwave- won't have one in the house ! Awful things.
 Now don't get me wrong I'm not really a total Foodie but probably a bit of one (and yes every possibly punning connotation intended) with a limited repertoire yet !!
 But I've never killed anyone I've fed- nor even given them as much as a tummy ache- unless it was from stuffing down seconds.
 Of the world cuisines I've tried a few  Anglo - Indian Anglo- Chinese and American- Chinese- somewhat different.
 Greek , French , Dutch- Indonesian, American,  German, Belgian, Thai , Tex-Mex, Italian and Spanish and of course English Scottish ,Irish and Welsh.(Welsh Cakes and Irish Soda bread- done properly are truly splendid and I don't object to a decent Colcannon either. Ayrshire round may just be the best bacon on the planet and a good Scotch pie- though perhaps an acquired taste  can be superb.
 There was a time when British food was incredibly boring  and indeed at times  still is though for different reasons. Top of my tedious list is the "classic"  British Roast Dinner or Sunday Dinner. When done well it can be quite acceptable and even good but as a home cook it is a hell of a faff for not very much in the way of style or flavour- the now old fashioned British aversion to anything resembling herbs or spices(except yellow curry powder) is still in evidence in pubs doing "Sunday Lunch" Beef you can sole your boots with boiled veg that- if you are lucky, still has some vestige of flavour. Often at these pubs you get out of a packet Yorkshire Puddings (God Damn Aunt bloody Bessie) that make reasonable shrapnel shells when stabbed. Obviously for some culinary variety is not the spice of life.- or this kind of stuff would not be so popular- likewise such  dangerous dross as Macdonalds or KFC-  "A coronary in a bucket please with extra salt and sugar ! "

So far myself and Carole we tend to have gone quite Mediterranean in our diet- especially as my current favourite cuisines are Spanish and Italian. Good Tapas and chilled Fino sherry are a combination made in Heaven and I've just acquired a book on Tuscan cookery and now love Garmugia amongst other dishes.

In case you all think I've gone metal  there is of course still room for the indispensable Bacon Buttie- at shows and a TWATS meeting simply would not wash without Landlady Jean's excellent Beef Butties and chips.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Thank God that is over at last.

Well the holidays are over. Not that Carole and I really had any. Christmas was a total frost due to an outbreak of some  kind of Flu like virus so all plans went out of the window. Then of course you get those people to whom the rules simply do not apply. That is - these days- everyone who wants anything NOW.
 To be sure these are overall a very tiny minority but you end up spending more time  on a chap who thinks he's Trump if he spends a tenner than on blokes who spend  a few tons or even a monkey or more. This of course is a fact of retail life and works in any area of endeavour and is by no means just  a wargaming thing.
 So the world is back to more or less normal. I've almost stopped trying to cough up a lung every 10 minutes and even got a tiny bit of panting done. Though nowhere near as much as I'd wanted. For instance I've cleaned up but not started a  group of the new Blue Moon ECW range. Hopefully it will develop over time into the Dunkirk Dunes campaign.
Some 40mm Thirty Years War. Having been touched up  now awaiting re-basing on round bases. Possibly these will end up taking the p*** out of "The Pikemans Lament."
 I'll have to get a copy of the Osprey "The Pikeman's Lament" even though I suspect it won't be very 17th century. However until I actually get one I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. Mind you  being told it is based around "Lion Rampant"- which I do have does not fill me with confidence.
A couple of 40mm TYW cuirassiers that should may also aid in urinary extraction. 
On to other stuff.
 "Shinyloo" moves on at a pace slightly faster than glacial. with figures being added to both sides. The first game will definitely take place this year- only 6 months or so behind schedule.
Willie and Charlie! - Suren Cuirassiers on Stadden Horses.

There are now almost 200 figures painted for "Shinyloo" with the French having a large preponderance of Cavalry.. Certainly enough for a small "beginners" style "Charge " game. However we'll see. I may use Featherstone instead or perhaps a melange of both.  After all you don't have to tie yourself to a given set of rules.

Royal Horse Artillery. These are  from the Hinchliffe/ Caldercraft 30mm sets. They match in well with the Stadden models I already have.