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Monday 31 December 2012

Art for Arts sake?

You know how it is something sets your brain going and you just have to follow it through sometimes its like Robert Frosts "Road Less Travelled" or whichever poem of his it was but nevertheless you have to go down that road as a thought experiment of somesuch. This time its Art. I know I kniow but then read my biog I do a bit of Arty Farty every now and then- can't help myself- man shall not live by Wargaming alone. However this time I was pondering wargaming and Art.. his as I was making up some more multi- part 40mm ECW figs prior to getting a brush on them. And again later watching a TV piece on David Hockney. Now of course a lot of this is how you define Art- in whatever form. For me its about making you think, saying something about the Human Condition. In a smaller way Military art is the same though it often speaks in a lesser tongue as it were. You can't compare Harry Payne for example with Sir Joshua Reynolds or Howard Pyle with Jackson Pollock- (though Frederick Remington might be in with a shout there). There is a difference between Art- and Iluustration though they both have common ground most of the Military art we look at is of course Illustration but not all - Dobsons portaits of Royalist during the ECW are more than that. Remrandt 's Night Watch may show us what the Officers of s Dutch Civic Militia looked like but it is far far more than that. I often find art of all types to be inspirational- especially when making figures for my collections. Why wouldn't I want my Spanish pikemen to look like Velasques "Las Lanzas" or were I to be into the Plains Wars my US cavalry to look like a Remington sketch ? Are our models merely counter decoration or can they aspire to be- in a teeny tiny way a very minor art form or perhaps a way to create an art form. Now there will be blokes out there to are mumblish Tosh and Twaddle at this point - well fine their Philistine armies will simply get larger and who know they may be right but the creative process is a strange thing and I don't make my models merely to shove about the table......

Thursday 20 December 2012

English Civil War.

It may not be a surprise to regular readers of my ramblings that I'm an ECW fan. Of all the periods I've collected its probably the one I've fiddled with most over 40 years- though medivals of various types may run it a close second. I first had ECW armies in 1977 indeed they were my first all metal armies- mostly minifigs but later with generous helpings of Garrison and Hincliffe. These are long gone now and my current ECW Armies are all Old Glory 25mm or increasingly Romanoff/Jacdaw/Sash and Saber/ Drabant 40mm . With these last I tend to mix the bits up to get precisly the figures I want. However with the 25mm - or 28 if you prefer- It's the standard Old Glory range- I have a few redoubt- which I like and some Foundryand an entirely separate- and small- collection of Les Higgins 30mm Jason but I don't really count those as part of my armies. Should the happy day come when Bluemoon do and ECW range in 18mm(I'm not saying never here it has been discussed- but no timeline) then I'll do some of those too doubtless. However this group of pictures are from a few years backand show some of myECW Units
From the Top Kings Lifeguard of Foot - as they probably appeared in the summer of 1643after they were reclothed by Thomas Bushell. The unit is 48 figures strong 16pikes 32 Muskets. Middle The Earl of Essex regiment of Foot- summer 1642- I did these as "Textbook perfect" so the Pikemen all have armour and the musketeers have rests. In all likelhood only Essex army eveer approached textbook perfect at the beginning of the war. The unit is deliberately large 96 figures32 pikes 64 muskets. Bottom- Royalist Horse again in 1643. You can never have enough Royalist Horse- some of their armies were more Horse than Foot- especially toward the end of the war and a fifty- fofty split was by no means unusual- Wargames armies tend to be under horsed. My 25/8mm forces are for the first Civil War- 1642-46 though my 40mm collection tends toward the Second Civil War of 1648 and Cromwells invasion of Scotland in 1650 and yes there are subtle differences in the appearence of the forces involved- the 2nd and 3rd Civilwars are of course dominated by the fearsomly efficvient New Model Army.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Miniature Wargames no 357

A bit of showing off to the bloggersphere here as this fine journal has - as its front cover a photo of some of my slowly growing 40mm Wars of the Roses Collection. Further inside is an article by Stephen Maggs again illustrated by photos from my collection. Also present is an article featuring fellow blogger Robbie Roddissand his huge collection of tricorn hats! or 7YW figuresand rather a lot of Grey Hair - yes I'm being cruel but truth must out- of the 5 pictures illustrating the article both of those containing humans pictured grey hair... now this may have been pressure of the game but somehow I think not.... However enough irreverant waspishness back to the magazine which aside from the 2 articles under consideration contained other useful stuff - mostly a review of the Derby show at its new venue which which I couldn't disagree at all - as I was there. I MIGHT make the point that the Kharzis only became insalubrious on Sunday morning after many of the gamers found the neeed to unload Saturdays beer a little pressing. I went as one does for a wee wee about eleven of the clock in the forenoon to find my ears assailed by some noisy - and subsequwently noisome- wretch evacuating hiomself in one of the cubicles- since I was at the other end "in the stalls" so to speak perhaps 20 feet away and could still HEAR the results its no wonder that the loos were less than fragrant... as for the noise of the car racing man if it hadn't been for the customers I'd have been THERE . Paul Johnstons article on Competiton gaming gave me pause to think . Its never been my thing but I see his pointand one day I might even have another bash. Aside from the "fine" illustrations Stephen Maggs article on The Battle of Barnet covered most of the expected bases though IMHO he fluffed his terminology a bit "Currours, Hobilar Cavalry and Northern Border Horse" are - in Wars of the Roses terms all the same troop type Currours are sometime called in comtempory texts -"Afore riders"- hardly the Heavily armoured cavalry as Maggs has them. However aside from that Nit -pick the article covered the campaign well. There were other articles including one on Staligrad- not my thing- and a wierd one called Keep Calm and Bop Bop about which after reading the piece I'm no wiser except that it was some kind of PP game for kids involving no soldiers at all but run by a systems administraor- whatever the hell one of those is and won a prize for best PP game at Colours. Nevertheless a good mag and these days the only one I read- By the way anyone want the firstdozen or so of Battlegames they are largly twaddle and are cluttering the place up.

Monday 10 December 2012

Further notes on the Battle of Al-Gebra.

Now the desert dust has settled and a modicum of calm has returned to the town of Al-gebra I thought I might make a few notes on the logic and method of this my first attempt at a "modern " game- given the exceptions mentioned earlier. For a start I wanted some meaty tanks- back in the bush whacking days in Zingola Hi Tech was a T-34/85- even then a bit out of date. Also in previos "post WW2" games I'd never deployed any meaningful air support- never to put it one way - had my chopper (s) out! . Also in those early 90s days ther wasn't that much kit about- sure you could get some in 20mm- mainly Vietnam and some Cold war but no real 15mm and the next down were teenies- "what's that hiding under that speck of Fly shyte- Oh is a chieftain tank " No not for me. The 2 forces on the table last Saturday hadn't existed 6 months ago but I suppose the genesis was when I first laid eyes on the OG 15mm Challenger tank modeland soon after when I got Percy to do the Apache for the Lil' Flyin' Fokkers range. There had to be I though a way to get such tasty kit onto the table. A bit of ebaying later I got hold of a set of "Combined Arms" the Command decision "modern" set- actually 1980s but with addenda in the Command post Quarterly magazine which brought the system more up to date. Now I've been a CD fan for years. IMHO its the only WW2 set I've tried that doesn't patronise the arse off you or is so oversimplistic that its "WW2 for the Hard of Thinking" so I do keep going back to it. So Combined Arms - having similar systems was a bit of a No-brainer really.I even had some Iraqi strengths and equipment lists in various books and magazines- Mil Mod and Military Illustrated as well as the aforementioned CPQ. However I hit upon a bity of a problem when building the British force. Now normally I shy away from Imagi-nations! yeaach) It just doesn't suit . But here well how csan I put this. It simply didn't seem right or proper to pick one Real unit over another 40 Cdo over 42 or 45 1 Para over 3 Para etc etc. Yet I still wanted units that- however dimly reflected the style of the British Army So enter 69 Commando Royal Marines- Regimental Knickname the "Muffs" . The Queens Malabars have featured in this blog previously and the Prince Regents Own Heavy Hussars first saw the light of day in a small piece by Richard Nelson in a Mill Mod a couple of decades ago.Organisations would be as correct as I could make them. In game terms the opposition would be a problem. I couldn't assume that my players be they ever so under the influence of beer would fight as stupidly as the Irquis did- even though Jim the Painter(in real life a Builder and Roofer) expected to get a kicking So enter the Great Leader
One might say... "It's Jim but not as we know him...." Since many in the west suspected that the war was mainly about Oil I needed an Oil company Andrew the Tekkies surname is Oyston which aliterates nicely so...
The actual model I found - assembled- on ebay for about a fiver. Trenches and shell holes came from an outfit called Ironclad miniatures- nice stuff if a tad brittleand a decent price. Here are the orders of Battle for both sides in CD/combined armes terms.
Battle of Al-Gebra December 8th 2003 69 Commando Royal Marines Battle group. OC Col. Myles Overlap DSO. Intention. Prevent the destruction of the oil facility by the enemy if at all possible. Secure the town of Al- Gebra. Drive enemy Irregular forces from the banks of the Schatt –an Harab waterway. Enemy forces. The garrison of Al-Gebra is of low morale and is not expected to pose much more than a Token threat. These forces strength Approx. 1 understrength Infantry battalion with minimal heavy weapons.They are however dug in . Local Irregular forces from the “72 Virgins Martyrs Brigade” of the Fedayeen al Rufa however pose a more serious immediate threat s they are highly motivated if poorly trained. They have mortars and some RPG and may have heavier weaponsd. They appear to be based in the Old fortess of Hal- Farta on the banks of the waterway. However Republican Guard Armoured forces are in the area to the North of the town in strength with T-72 tanks and APC’s . Own Troops. Elite Morale 10 HQ 69Cdo Royal Marines 1Command stand 1Landrover. 1 HMG stand 1 Recon sniper stand 1 81mm Mortar stand 1 Milan Stand. 2 companies each with 1 command Infantry stand 2 infantry stands. Any stand from the HQ company (other than the command stand) may be attached to either of the infantry companies Manovre Support group. 1 command WMIK 2 WMIK Armoured group HQ no1 Sqn Prince Regents Own Heavy Hussars 1 Command Sultan 1 FV432 TOC. 1 landrover 1Sabre Squadron with 1 Command Challenger1 2 Challenger 1 Attached armoured Infatry – 3rd Bn Queens Malabars 1Command Warrior 1 Warrior 1 command Infantry Stand 1 infantry stand 1Weapons stand Air Support In addition you may call upon “Ugly Six Nine “ callsign 1 x AHU64D Apache gunship –Army Air Corps
Battle for Al-Gebra. December 8th 2003. Jhimhi Hussein Al- Rufa Al Kahol. President and “Great Leader“ of the Republic of Harraq. (Allah Help Us !!!) Objective. Deny the Town of Al-Gebra and its Oil facilities to the invading British Forces. Troops Infantry Battalion 19th Reserve Infantry Division Trained Morale 6. Bttn HQ with 1infantry Command Stand 1 Recon BDRM AT Weapons Company with 1 81mm Mortar stand. 1 weapons stand. 3 infantry Companies each with 2 infantry stands. These troops may occupy any of the trenches and bunkers on the table. Elements 3rd Saladin Armoured division. Experienced Morale 8 Tank Battalion with 1 Command T-72 1BMP TOC. 1 “Shilka” SPAA 1 Recon BDRM AT Tank Company with 1 Command T-72 2 T-72 2 Tank Companies each with 2 T-72 Mechanised Infantry Company 1 Command Infantry Stand 1 Weapons Stand 1 Infantry stand 3 BMP2 1Recon BDRM AT These troops deploy anywhere along the North edge of the table or may be held back off table for 1 or 2 turns before appearing.
As it turned out Jim couldn't make it until late so Flaoting Jeff was deputised as commander and his command was dropped from the game- deliberately withoput telling the British. I enclose their OB for completness.
Mullah Mustapha Narsul High Commander “72 Virgins Martyrs Brigade” Fortress of Hal –Farta. The Infidel Cruasders are upon the Holy soil of Harraq. They must be destroyed , slaughtered Martydom is upon us Brothers. Allah a Akbar !! Available forces Trained Morale 9 1 Command Stand. 1 Recon Jeep with HMG 2 Recon Motorcycle stands 1 Jeep with sneb Rocket pod. Mortar Company with 4 81 mm Mortar Stands (ROF1). 2 Infantry Companies each with 2 Infantry Stands 1Weapons stand You must protect your base if it falls to the infidels and they discover your stash of Heroin – which you wish to sell to finance the Holy War....
All Politically Incorrect Jokes are entirly intentional. THE RESISTANCE LIVES ON.

Sunday 9 December 2012

First time out.

In the best part of 40 year Wargaming there are not many periosds I NOT had a bash at in my time. Napoleonics- more times than I can count in different ways- Various Ancients Medivals and Feudals for years. Colonials Pike and shot but aside from a bit of Bush whacking in Africa Modern warfare has eluded me. Until now. Readers of my recent ramblings will have noticed an upsurge of 15mm Modern figures being painted. I now have 2 "fightable" forces so it seemed logical that the TWATS last game before Crimbo should be a modern affair using "Combined Arms" the Command decison post war set plus the various add ons and extra stats that CPQ could provide. I thefore hand you over to our embedded war reporter Leon Gett of the Soaraway Daily Blurb the popular Red top in the trenches...
Battle For Harraqi Town. Al-Gebra Falls to Britsh Battle group. Saturady December 8th 2003. The men of the 69 Commando Royal Marines Battlegroup ably supported by their comrades of the Queens Malabars and the Challenger Tanks of the Price Regents heavy Hussars advanced against dug in Harraqi forces. With AT missles doing no harm to the tanks (Sgt Knocker was heard to swaer foully as his newly brewed tea spilled squarely upon his b******s as a missles struck the front glacis plate of his Challenger. Other than that minor incident "Not minor at all it was My tea and My b******s!" Only sporadic and inaccurate mortar fire hindered the first phase of the British advance. However this was to change dramaticlly
The initial British advance.
On the British right Infanrty element had taken the first unoccupied trenches and now British mortar and tank fire flayed the second line. A BDRM2 Spandrel was seen to explode and the Harraqi infantry were in the bottom of their trenches after taking caualties determined to take no further part in the battle. However T-72 tanks hull down in dunes behing Al-gebra now opend fire. These concentrated on the Warrior IFVs of the Queens Malabars destroying or damaged both of them. British retribution was swift. An Army Air Corps Apaches - Call sign Ugly 69 was on call and launched Hellfire Misslies at the T-72s
Ariel photo of the aftermath of the Hellfire attack.
UGLY SIX -NINE on station.
The way was now apparently clear for a British advance - but their was one last despairing Harraqi act. As the Challengers of the Heavy Hussars advanced the left hand troop showed a flank to T-72 on the edge of Al-gebra - A challeger was destroyed-(Jubilation in the Harraqi camp here!!) and over on the right a Sultan command vehicle fell victim to a T-72 as the Harraqis tanks pulled out. Not thay they would get far. The Challengers vented swift revenge and only 1 T-72 was to escape.
What it was all about- Top pic- "The Great leader- actually a much abuse pic of Jim the Painterand below 2Oyston Oil- one of the British objectives.
For those who want the technical details - rules were Combined arms with the additions from Command Post Quarterlyand - with a couple of exceptions- the Sultan command vehicle being one all the vehicles Infantry and Helicopter were Old Glory UK products. We discovered that in game terms the Apache was queen of the battlefield in 1 turn it destroyed half of the 8 T-72 on the table. The Challenger were almostinvulnerable at longer ranges whilst the T-72 needed numbers to be effective. We'll be having another bash at this as we learn the rules, systems and equally the equipment.