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Sunday 29 December 2013

.... and your point is????

 Like most chaps I have some odd habits- one of mine is that I'm a toilet thinker... I contemplate the human condition whilst enthroned. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this as it seems that for some chaps -especially those unfortunates with noisy brats etc the smallest room is the only place where they can get a bit of peace and quiet- possibly the only place where they get to read the latest crop of Wargames Magazines. Now I don't read THOSE in the Kharsi. I might be tempted to use them for a more useful purpose and the paper is too slippery and MIND THE STAPLES !!!

But it does lead you to wonder what Wargames Magazines are for. I've touched upon this in previous posts and frankly I have 2 distinct opinions one professional and one  personal. They do not always coincide.
More than once on the various blogs I read there are reviews of the various magazines  both positive and negative depending upon the mag and the content.
 Now in my time I've read most of them MW, Battle(both before and after it was a Wargaming title) PW WI Dadi I Piombo La Gloire ,  Battlegames Vae Victis and WSS. All of them at various times  have has something in their favour though I personally never saw the point of Battlegames it was too narrow too retro too low on content. From a potential advertisers view it had little to recommend it. From a readers view it was mostly 1970-80s retread stuff that I'd read before in MW or PW
 As for the current crop of survivors None of them are what they were- with the possible exception of WSS- and the latest issue of that is rather good as is the latest MW- see the previous post- I even have a recent WI which provided some reading - as long as I ignored the middle bit and gritted my teeth at the "Corporate Style" of the Figure Fascists.
 However none of that crop of  magazines were truly awful and all had something in them to read.
 So I ponder what do chaps actually expect of a wargames mag.
 I realise that asking this question is opening a can of worms. It often seems to me that chaps answer questions such as that without thought.
 "I didn't like it cos it was rubbish"
"Why dear Sir was it Rubbish"
 "Cos I didn't like it"
and so on round and round
 So what do I want to see in a magazine-
 Stuff I can read that will tell me things I had either forgotten or didn't know in the first place.An article should hopefully lead me down a new path or make me want to re-examine a path I went down a few years ago. . A bit of eye candy is nice but by no means important. Reviews are pretty essential  even though I personally rarely buy new products these days Notices about shows are useful- though personally I usually know about the one I go to- but this is not just about me.
 Periods and subject should vary after all there is plenty of history about  I'm not averse to the odd bit of Dwarf Fiddling within the pages Likewise SF - though the argument as to weather Fantasy and SCI-FI are each  "Just another period" can wait for another post.
Now what I'd prefer to avoid.
 I don't want to be patronised to treated like I'm 12 again. Certain writers and magazines often seem to think that no-one but they have ever read a whole book without pictures or that most of the potential readership are (in theory) ADULTS
 Endless bloody scenarios for the hard of thinking really get my goat- can't these fellas read a book ?
Most scenarios were done to death sometime in the 1990s if not before   so I accept its difficult not to retread but I do sometime wonder if some of our brethren prefer to be thick.
"Obey or be considered "Untermenchen" " - IE the "Corporate Style" of the figure fascists. Us these paints   Paint this way- you are merely a brainless prole and BIG WARGAMER is watching you open tyour wallets and let him in Braincells not required  . Yes I overstate the case more than a tad but  sometimes it does feel that way. 

 The above leads to another question
 Is "Wargaming"  a large enough subject to  support itself without the History - personally I think not After all how many different ways of rolling a diffferent sized dice are there. The Fantasy and Sci-fi chaps have their "Histories"  but there is a body of opinion that says wargames shouldn't somehow know any - this is the most arrant twaddle imaginable.
 Is our hobby only to consist of lightweight magazines and pretty rich boys showing off books . If that is the case we have fallen a long way since the thought and erudition of Grant  or Griffith.

Friday 20 December 2013

Well thats that ... sort of ...

 Well thats over at last.  Something in the region of 200 parcels and packets  have gone out since the shipment from the US finally arrived on Wednesday afternoon.
 It has been a tad hectic- there are always of course those who think they are the only chaps in the queue. Oftenj they seem to be women or the French.  so its not really their fault- they are just made that way. Mind you its not been nearly as bad in that regard as some years in the past. But that s the way of things .
 Now once I've toddled off to the post office with this last load in about an hour thats it for 2013.
 Carloe and I are having some time off in which there will be NO BLOODY LITTLE SOLDIERS  for at least a few days. I'm sick of the little lead gits

Well sort of....

In addation to a re-order of stock I've had a bundle of new stuff from Bluemoon 15mm
 War of 1812, Gangsters- a lovely set of Hillbillies and their Still  , More Napoleonic Cavalry  including  Austrian and Russian Ulans and a bin load of Colonils- Bengal Lancers Guides Afghan Highland Guard  Afghan Regulars Command  Naval Brigade for the Sudan  - all sorts  of interesting stuff.
 These should be appearing on the website in the next few days as the Webmistress setts about it.
 But me  well  Crimbo is almost upon us and I've a few bottles of faling down water to inspect.....

Wednesday 27 November 2013

More Falklands masters

 These 2 photos show the latest batch of masters for my 15mm Falklands range  These 12 new Figures and the 12 I already have  will give us 3 packs for each side Riflemen ,  Command and  weapons.
 I thought about releaseing the riflemen packs on their own but decided that was daft when the rest of the  first release was almost to hand
The British

The Argentinians
 With the landrovers now almost ready, I'll try and get this lot released before Crimbo.  

Tuesday 26 November 2013

First Solo

 In our small group  Andrew the Tekkie is a valued chap. He knows an awful lot about modern armies and their kit and what he doesn't know he can find out. So given this. its no surprise that his favourite period is  Modern Warfare- lots of big tanks with  dirty great Whumpata guns and all sorts of clever Wossnames to msake  them work properly - not forgetting Helicopters and jets and loads of very exspensive  Whatjamacallems (you'll notice Gentle reader that I use the technical terms)
 Now notwhithsatanding all this until recently Andrew didn't have a collection of his own and hadn't run a game.
 Last Saturday(16th) he finally broke one of his ducks as it were by running a game using my Modern Collection - so it was of course once again set in the Demoratic Republic of Harraq and would be the further Adventures of 69 Commando Royal Marines Battle Group.- read Second Gulf War  with the names changed to preseve the guilty . But as ever an eye to "accuracy"  and an attempt to stick close to period as we can - surely the point
 Rules for these games are "Combined Arms"  with additions from the relevant issues of CPQ plus any "local additions and amanedments " that the Umpire feels approriate.

 One nice idea which we will use again was the ability of the "technologically superior" Coalition forces to communicate using email - 2 of those present had  Tablets- actually Barnes and Noble Nook  devices- not only that but now some of the awful Jokes become a little clearer Gentle Reader so here we go First the Briefings

Mullah Mustapha Narsul
High Commander “72 Virgins Martyrs Brigade”
Town of Hav-Al-Ghan.

The Infidel Crusaders are upon the Holy soil of Harraq. They must be destroyed, slaughtered.
Martyrdom is upon us Brothers.

Allah a Akbar!!!

Available forces
Trained Morale 9
1 Command Stand.
1 14.5mm AAMG
1 107mm RCL.
2 Recon Jeeps with HMG
4 Recon Motorcycle stands
1 Jeep with sneb Rocket pod.
Mortar Company with
4 81 mm Mortar Stands (ROF1).
2 Infantry groups  each with
2 Infantry Stands
1Weapons stand

You must prevent the British from  capturing the town. There will be regular military forces on route to support you, but you must hold out against the cursed infidel. If you don’t there’s a bullet waiting for you.

If you destroy the enemy infantry, look for NOOKIE! We have heard this is important to the British!

British Forces
Al-Hav-Atit Province, Southern Hirraq
Gentlemen, as you may be aware, the war goes well, with few casualties and, thankfully, few embarrassing tweets from the lads. However, speed is of the essence, and we must push forward.
Our objectives today are the town of Hav-Al-Ghan. Although not in itself strategically important, the town represents an opportunity for a hearts and minds campaign with the locals, who are in no way enamoured with the Great Leader and will welcome his downfall (stop sniggering at the back, the Yanks have good intelligence that once the Great Leader has been deposed, the country will support a peaceful transition and we’ll be home by Christmas!).
In addition to the town, there is an Oyston Oil facility to the north. This must be taken from enemy hands in pretty short order as it is vital to the post-war rebuilding plan and the local economy.
Now, as well as the troops available, we are trialling the new SWORDSMAN (Soldiers Wanting ORDers Sometime – Map And Nokia) replacement: NOOKIE (New Overpriced Obstreperous Kit – Improvised Edition). NOOKIE will allow British and Allied units to interoperate at a very low level. NOOKIE will allow inter-unit communication securely, without the enemy being able to intercept.
Please note that this kit, supplied by Oyston Electronics, is at a test phase and does have some… foibles to be taken into account. But for Lord’s sake, do not lose a terminal to enemy forces! That will hand the Hirraquis a massive intelligence coup.
Your forces consist of:
Elite Morale 10
HQ 69 Cdo Royal Marines Battle Group – NOOKIE capable
1Command stand
1 FV432 TOC.
Support  coy with
1Command Infantry stand
1 HMG stand
1 Recon sniper stand
2 81mm Mortar stands
1 Milan Stand.
1Quad Bike and Trailer
1 Pinzgauer truck
1 Landrover
2 companies each with
 1 command Infantry stand
2 infantry stands.
Any stand from the Support Company may be attached to either of the infantry companies
Manoeuvre Support group.
1 command WMIK

Armoured group
HQ no1 SqnPrince Regents Own Heavy Hussars
1 Command Sultan
1 Sabre Squadron with
1 Command Challenger1
2 Challenger 1
No2Sqn Prince Regents Own Heavy Hussars
1 Sabre Squadron with
1 Command Challenger1
2 Challenger 1
Attached armoured Infantry – 3rd Btn Queens Malabars – NOOKIE capable
1Command Warrior IFV
2 Warrior IFV
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 Hav Al - Ghan
Nov 2nd 2003.

Jhimhi Hussein Al- Rufa Al Kahol. President-for-Life and “Great Leader“of the Republic of Harraq.
(Allah Help Us!!!)

Relieve the town garrison as quickly as possible, denying the town to the British infidels.

Prevent the capture of the Oyston Oil Company facility to the British.

Capture a NOOKIE communication device in order to gather intelligence on the Infidel advance.

 Infantry Battalion 19th Reserve Infantry Division
Trained Morale 6.
Bttn HQ with
1 infantry Command Stand
Weapons Company with
1 81mm Mortar stand.
1 weapons stand.
2 infantry Companies each with
2 infantry stands.
These troops may occupy any of the trenches and bunkers on the table to the west  of the town of Hav- al Ghan

Oyston Oil Company Protective Detail
Trained Morale 7
 1 command Stand
1 Radio Car.
Garrison Infantry company with
2 Infantry stands
Garrison Weapons company with
1 weapons stand
1 HMG  stand
Anti Aircraft Company with
1 Shilka SPAA
These troops may deploy anywhere within the facility boundaries.

Elements 3rd Saladin Armoured division.
Experienced Morale 8
Tank Battalion with
Battalion HQ company
1 Command T-72
1 T-72

2 Tank Companies each with
1Command T-72
2 T-72
1 Tank Companywith
3 T-72

Mechanised Infantry Battalion.
 Battalion HQ with
I Command Stand
1BMP toc
ATGW company with
2 infantry Companies each with
1 Command Infantry Stand
1 Weapons Stand
1 Infantry stand
3 BMP2

 These troops deploy anywhere along the North edge of the table once activated

As you can see the jokes are at best awful- but that's the way we like 'em  It simply does not do to take yourself too seriously
 Next a photo montage of the action - picture captions tell the story- all photos by Andrew Oyston.

The Left of the British Deployment- Challenger Tanks and Warrior IFV with a single Bulldog for flavour.

The "Harraquis - well Iraquis really . There looks to be an awful lot of T-72

The Town of Hav- al Ghan filled with fundementalists

The Oil depot heavily defended by AAA.
The first group of pics show set up and move one . The action opened with a mortar barrage from the Martys Brigade on the Royal Marines. The fire was inaccurate and slow but did eventually claim a landrover. Once the Marines replied- their Cymbeline Radar (an extra plus2)  giving them an accuaracy advantage soon finished the Martyrs Mortar Company  the few survivors fleeing to become peaceful farmers again.
Harrqi tanks and Apc s rush towards the towen

Close up of the Armoured Battle Group  bimbling along. I really should have got my finger out.

Sneaky foriengers spring an ambush  with ATGW

Cheers erupt from the Harraqi  commander.

Retribution is swift and deadly
  The most effective of the Harrqi weapons were there ATGW on BRDM   which claimed a Challenger and their light AAA which claimed an Apache. The T-72 simply could not damage Challenger at anything other than suicidally close and whilst random rocket and 107mm RCL fire could cause the marines to halt temoprarily  they could not be stopped.
 Once a second Apache turned up it was all over bar a bit of shouting
OKay Chaps Hellfire !
Boom Boom Boom
After this little lot the Harraqi Morale to say the least a tad shaken.  and whilst there was nothing to stop the British taking the town Rules of Egagment meant it would be a slow process- throughout the game the Brits could not fire until fired upon or unless they observed an enemy threat- figures in Civillian dress were not threats until they opened fire.
 Post match I thought I should have been a bit more gung-ho perhaps faster on my feet. Tom in charge of the Marines reckoned he needed more transport and Jeff in charge of the Harraqis was cock - hoop that he had taken out an Apache ,a Challenger and a landrover.
 Andrew  did a sterling job as Umpire and wonder of wonders I got to play with some of my own stuff. Ale and Beef Butties as ever splendid and a fine time had by all.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Pleasant Highs... Nauseating lows

 Now you know that I have - on a personal level- a pretty poor opinion of Waragemes Magazines. Only 1 WSand S regularly treats you like an Adult  of the other 2  One varies from rather good to  desperately  trivial and the other is a pretty house magazine which  sometimes has an article in it.
 None of these opinions alter in the slightest  my view of where to spend my advertising budget but as it happens the latest MW-368 was another curates egg- good in parts- well part. The only article I enjoyed was John Treadaway  on his "School Visit"- More power to you elbow John . Aftet that it was a steady journey downwards to Nausea- which  I suspect is another one of those bloody imgi-nations we are supposed to put up with . After this lot I'll be President !!  .We are now not only asked to put up with imagi- nations but also imagi- worlds and imagi- gaming - at least according  to one of the articles which appeared to pit dervishes against  the usual fictional  tricorn hatted dudes- there was more to it than that but I couldn't be bothered. It isn't as if its anything new all same old same old been there done that (but stopped doing it when I was about 14)
 Then there was a short piece on the complexities of Wargames rules- which was largely a beating up of FOGR and an extolling of the virtues of DBR( much much more of the former than the latter). Now I've never played FOGR - though I have a set but I've played DBR and I don't care how bad FOgR is or isn't, it could not be worse than the complete twaddle that is DBR which for the record bears  precisely no resemblence whatsoever to the periods it purports to depict.
 However now we come to the worst absolutely the worst book review I have ever read. The most nasueating piece of sycophancy I have ever read in a wargames mag- and I include reviews of Gods Anointed Perry  figures and at the end of this  review I still don't know what this 60 quid masterpiece is all about other than the fact that it is filled with pictures which don't have any captions and that I'm supoosed to buy the bloody thing because Henry says it Art .
 Will the book increase my knowledge of its chosen period? Don't know the review didn't say
 Will the book  increase my knowledge of Tactics  or Strategy- Don't know the review didn't say
Will the book enhance my life- apparently  the sun obviously shine of of it or somewhere near it (do you Gentle reader detect just a touch of Sarcasm... a soupcon perhaps???)

Apparently we are supposed to bow down and worship  because this is "outside our normal wargaming exsperience"- how would I bloody know the review doesn't tell us what its about
 I refer of course to John Rays "A Military Gentleman" now as it happens I don't give a stuff about the book  as most modern  wargaming books bore me witless and to be truthful even the classic have lost their flavour as I've read 'em all too often  and assuming this indeed IS a wargaming book- ther seems to be pretty pictures of nice toys in it-  THE REVIEW NEVER TELLS US.

Now if I'm going to spend 60 on books - which I often do- I want to know what I'm buying the only thing I know here is that Henry is panting like a leashed dog in a butchers doorway so all in all
 Nah I'll spend my 60 quid on something useful ...  Couple of Bottles of Moet for a start 

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Off to Smoggycon

 This Saturday sees OGUKs last show of the year- Smoggycon in Middlesborough. A small show but great fun  and I don't go there simply for the money.
 We'll be taking all our usual show stock plus some new items

Drabant's new 28mm Normans Painted by Nick Bokarev.
These new items will include some new Bluemoon Colonials- British Lancers and Dragoons for the Sudan and the NW Frontier- actually useable in both.  Afghan Regular Cavalry for the 2nd Afghan War. Napoleonic British  Lifeguards/HorseGuards  and a few other   new items.
 IAlso present will be the whole of thwe Drabant 28mm Dark Ages Range- now 12 boxes strong and including the new Normans seen above.. I'm actually getting a brush round the armoured infantry and they are the business-  more on this when I finish them.
 See you at Smoggy chaps! 

Friday 15 November 2013

Are your Maccabean Jewish Cavalry Knights??

 Now this  surreal statement has stuck in my head ever since the question was posed to me several years ago at a show in Reading which I no longer attend - various reasons but aside from  the travelling it was mainly because the venue smelled  mostly of old jockstraps and wee wee - a somewhat stronger version of what Americans sometimes call "Locker Room lilac" . If that whiff was in the sports hall Gawd knows what the locker room actually smelt like!.
 But the reason it sticks in my head is its  historical  stupidity -well no   of course not   the institution of Knighthood wouls not exist for almost another millenia- but of course it was a statement made by a Games player who had no idea  outside his chosen rulebook  and didn't give a monkeys about  how thick he sounded.
 So once again I come around to our "Image problem" . I still maintain that much of this is our own fault.We do ourselves no favours .
 Whilst other hobbies also have image problems especially those which, like us suffer from "Geek in his bedroom" syndrome  or as I once heard it put by a lady
 "45 and still living in his mothers attic" (though this was aimed specifically at a bunch of unwashed GW freaks I do know what she meant) I think there is a problem.
 Wargamers often seem to make a fetish of having no image at all   I'd go further enjoying the "anti-image" - see my post  In Vogue-  but I would also note the regular appearence of "builders bum" at shows and the Oxfam shop dress sense of many of our bretheren- not that this last is confined to our hobby at all  but chaps, there are kids about put your arses away PL- ease-   and run a comb through the unruly locks- if you have any. .
 Model railways - a  far more intricate hobby on average than ours BUT with roughly the same entry level costs- a basic "train set" will cost about the same as a basic army  about a ton or a bit less if in smaller scales  does not always seem to have the same "baggage" as it were. after that entry its up to you how far you go of course but the model railway chaps I've met do seem to actually give a damn If such as . Pete Waterman and Rod Stewart-  those denizens of the Pop music world who   are both model railway men and feel no shame thereby - both have extolled the virtues of their hobby on primetime telvision  they why should we feel any nervousness  about our hobby?.
 Yet in our world its not like that-
 I know a couple of BBC journos who wargame but neither advertise it much and many years ago I aquired a collection of 20mm Les Higgins and Douglas some of which had belonged to a minister of the crown who allegedly got rid of the lot in case it harmed his career.
 There does still seem to be some kind of self made stigma here. despite the fact that our hobby has grown significantly.  Growth has its downside unfortunately mostly of the "dumbing down" variety which on some levels has become much worse since the "It's only a game" lobby aquired more influence- as it has since the 1990s- and increasingly today we see rules refered to as Games rather than rules for a given period so FOW is a WW2 Game Saga a Game  and so on ad nauseam. This is of course  is the GW  influence- especially as several of the major "games companies" are run or staffed by EX GW dudes. This goes a long way to "make official"   the trivialisation of  what we do- If its only a game then the History and Study and indeed research tht some of us do becomes - in some eyes pointless ,trivial and nerdy . Consquently why should we take ourselves even remotely seriously ? After all you are only rolling dice and pushing games markers about.

 Think of the areas where our hobby crosses paths with other modelling based hobbies such as Military Modelling or Railway Modelling . Yet I've heard it proposed vey ernestly that Wargamers are in no sense modellers- that may be true for the rich dudes who just throw money at the job and buy all their stuff either off the shelf or to commision but for most of us modelling -even at a basic level -is part of the hobby. Paint your troops base your troops - assemble and paint this tank or  that building - you are model making.
 I think perhaps part of the problem is that we have allowed the "it's da gamin' innit"   lobby  too much gabbin' room  with out sufficient replies, magazine editors may be afraid to upset their readership perhaps or in one case at least their owners who are of the games lobby  - I don't know- can't answer that for sure as always I merely observe and perhaps take the p***

Nevertheless I do find it somewhat perturbing that we seem to do this to ourselves
 I wonder why this is?

 I can think of several reasons some , all or none of which may be  or may not true in some, all or none of  chaps heads but that is between them and their ...ahem brains ...

1/. You are so insecure about your hobby that you  trivialise it to compensate
2/. Has our hobby become so introverted that it doesn't give a damn- it is the Geek in the bedroom???.
3/. Do you think what we do  should be trivial and infantile in order to attract a new audience which isn't capable of entetaining  more complex ideas?
4/. Are you simply a lazy git  who can't be bothered to use his brain?

Of these points 3 has a laudable aim - attracting new bretheren is never a bad idea  and introducing new chaps to what we do may be a tad difficult- but do we have to assume that they are   thick and  should we patronise them ?.  After all the kiddies seem to understand the complexities of Games Workshop  and I flamin' don't! One of the MAJOR problems I have with FOW(other than the fact that its simplistic and bears no resemblence to any WW2 action I've ever read)  is its patronising tone- other rules do this to a lesser extent- Black Powder for instance. There is now an unwritten assumption in some quarters  that your poor benighted customer is so dumb that he has  either never read a book or has to use his fingers to follow the long words. Now whilst this may be true (see point 4) and   the popularity of these sets would seem to support this- its not very nice or polite  to tell 'em so - well not too often anyhow! Not only that. gentle reader. but there are still plenty of chaps out there who have not fallen for this load of tripe- even if they use some of the offending rulesets-
 There now often seems to be a major disconnect between  the hobby as it is often seem- at shows and in some magazines-(or rather  perhaps at it is portrayed) and its historical roots  or even many of its grassroots players . Back in the  chaps Like Young Wise Grant et all knew stuff they were to a greater or lesser extent Historians even the fictional Callan was to be seen reading "The Campaigns of Napoleon" - even though he was an MI5 assassin.
If we see what we do as trivial then why shouldn't others?
 If many of our bretheren appear unwashed and/or socially awkard why would you wish to be associated with such?.
 Now to put this in context- none of the non wargamers I know have any  sense of weirdness about me selling toy soldiers for a living- or at least I've never detected such- a bit of disbelief perhaps on occaision- "you amke money out of that ? "  has been said to me more than once but also "what a fasxinating line of work to be in"
 I find it easy to explain the history and modelmaking side- less easy .to be honest. to explain the gaming bit- especially as the  peurile and sometimes nasty GW games are  often the only contact the public are aware of with miniatures  based games. To many out there both within and without out hobby there is no apparent difference between  what we do  and GW . That there should be some obvious distance is to me a no brainer. I really dislike the dystopian ethos of workshop 's games background the so called "lore"  some of it really sets my teeth on edge- especially as it is aimed at children (though its adult workshop freaks that really do my head in)
 So dudes what do we do about this- if anything?