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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Scattered fragements of different Eras ...Cries of "We're DOOMED !!!"

40mm ECW  troops on round bases placed in trays 8 to a tray . Its a small company of 24 figures
 So Barry Hiltons short piece on the future of the hobby makes a few waves. Surely that was its point. But as I consider the Scottish referendun like fallout I wonder if we are not rather putting the cart before the horse. Times change , ttastes change,  the hiobby is not what is was even 10 years ago.  While for some this is a "Golden Age " for others it is merely the onset of Doddering Old Age..
One of the things that we HAVE to get used to is that this is not one homogenous hobby. We go on and on about Broad Church and all inclusivity but how true is that?  There are a few common elements perhaps but how close is some chap who plays a single specific game - be it Flames of War or DBM  or Void or Warhammer Fantasy or WH40k  to a "period player" who studies his chosen era and builds his armies to fit them as he sees it then chooses his rules to fit his vision ..
 At one extreme the dyed in the head FOW player will ONLY  buy the overpriced and not always accuate Battlefront gear in the same way a Workshop junkie won't look at any other kind of Sci- Fant models- better and cheaper though they may be. Now as always there are shadings so for example I sell lots of WW2 stuff to chaps who use FOW  but don't like Battlefront at the other end of the spectrum are those who only  buy or even have made the figures that fit their particlar favourite period and style and the  choose rules that fit in with their idea of how the 3rd Slobovian War was actually fought.
 My point here is that these innumerable shadings are more like a random collection of potsherds in an arhaelogists trench than a single homogenous hobby . The different sherds come from subtly different pots- some pretty similar but others not and some not fitting this pattern at all- but perhaps THAT one over there in a different trench..
 That some games outfits want to make us all dig the same trench and olny use the pots they "allow"  is simply part of the normal commercial hurly - burly  and organising a "single voice" would only aid that wish - even assuming such a monumental imposition was even possible let alone desirable.
 Lets be honest here and pull no punches most chaps just want to do what they do they way the do when they do without interference from anyone- and indeed most do.
 Bad shows should wither on the vine- nobody forces you through the door with a cattle prod. I've told you my personal solution. I'm down from a high of 26 shows a year in the mid 1990s  to a mere 10 now and a couple of those may be in jepordy. Since the 90s costs have rocketed- Trade Stand Fees  Van Hire Hotels  Food Beer. the cost of doing even a small local show  would be around £300-400 ,  .A Weekender further afield and I've kissed a grand plus goodbye before a soldier has gone over the counter, so I pick my shows carefully  and if they don't cut the mustard they are gone.
 However Chaps want shows to be local  - witness the number of small local club shows in the small ads  or even simply on the net I can think of loads of shows I no longer do- either because they were poor  or because they are no longer being run  but that doesn't stop new ones in the same mould sprining up  all over. I've been to some God-Awful shows in my time both as trader and displayer. Some where the traders outnumbered the punters and where the little old Ladies wanderedin looking for the White Elephant stall !
 I can remember a show where the organisers offered free entry and still no-one turned up. At another one- one of the bad mannered organiser shows.. another trader- no longer trading made a hlf - hearted attempt to run over one of my team in his poxy knackered old van - possibly because Jim had commented on his well ...stink...  he was one of the most unwashed fellows ever !
 so shows are much better now in many respects  especially if you choose wisely.
 Now on to diversity- todays PC buzz- word!
 In our small and unrepresentative group none of us do exactly the same periods in the same scale Jim and I do AWI- me in 28 he in 15mm  Jiom also does SYW in 10mm I no longer do Andrew and I both do moderns- different bits in different scales Jeff is mainly Naval - though does 15mm WW2 , Napoleonic and some 15mm Ancients and has other armies but usually only 1 side- a hangover from his competiton days .
 I have 25mm ECW. I'm the only one in the group who does except perhaps new chap "Theatre" Dave- to distinuish him from Farmer Dave( lots of stuff see his Northumbrian Wargamer blog)- who has some as well as a bundle of 28mm Ancients. As far as I'm aware no-one games fantasy- thoug both Jim and I may paint the odd fantasy figure as a painting excerise.
 I'm the only one who has a sci-fi collection - and that pretty modest.
 So even  in  our tiny group  the diversity is considerable- none are now competiton players and all  are to a grater or lesser extent "period players" rather than points and armylist types.. By comparison to some g larger clubs I suppose we are pretty homogenous !!!
 So are we doomed - no I don't think so  changing certainly evolving perhaps- though when you see some of the 1970s unwashed brigade ...  but I'm not  joining the nay- sayers and  Prophets of Dooms (or should that be profits of doom??) 
 As always if you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined

Saturday 20 September 2014

Not holding back ....

 My copy of MW378 dropped on the mat this morning  and to be honest  I wasn't keen. This is not a criticism of the magazine but merely an observation that- in this issue there wasn't much in it for my personal interests.
 I don't do Ancient - well not much nor boardgames nor Normandy nor teeny tiny Napoleonics nor really Medieval Skirmishing - which happens to be a pet hate despite the fact that I like and study Medieval Warfare  , I have plenty of trees so non of the articles grabbed my attention - though Hery's photography article  pointed up a couple of things I'd forgotten- not having read my "Manual of Photography" for a while.

The foregoing merely shows you how deceptive first impressions can be ....

The teeny tiny men- actually a fine article on the refighting of the Battle of Vittoria on a dining table was the star piece. Some consdiderable though had  gone into this  "top down" refight of the battle. these lads knew their stuff and kept to the plan - the idea of Dinign Table Napoleonics is not one I'd choose but that didn't stopthe piece being of interest.
 the 2 pre-gunpowder articles whilst on the surface very different were actually quite similar - both  being fior skirmish games  of a very limited nature- the medival being  based around the famous "Combat of the Thirty" during the Hundred Years War- actually during one of the Truces - and the other  being Horatius at the Bridge- anyone who had to suffer Thomas Babbling Macualeys "Lays of Ancient Rome" might well shy off at this point  victorian doggerel not being to all tastes . Whilst both game might be fun to play once or twice and might suffice as entry level  the lasting appeal wwas pretty much nil.. One might comment upon the current  fashion for  light "post prandial " games . Like Western Gunfights or Gangster Brawls  none have any deep  or lasting interest
 Conrad Kinch "send three and Fourpence" column hightlight those chaps who just HAVE to win and will go to any leangths- you know- cheats ! Bad cess to 'em . This is something that simply doesn't happen in our group- the Umpire would not allow it and the rest of the lads wouldn't tolerate it and at bottom franlky its simply too childish - if your life is so pathetic  that you have to cheat  then go and be pathetic somewhere else . Nuff said
 then we get to Barry Hilton piece on the future of the hobby "Staying Alive"- Apaarently he's "not holding back- the Editors word not his .... .
 Well now  I can't actually disagree with this  but its all been siad before- not least on this Blog and Robbie Roddis' . I might take issue with the idea that the hobby needs a single "voice" and I've been to enough US and Eurpean shows to know that they are not that different to British ones- except perhaps that some of the European ones are more over run with GW crap that ours are so far. That some shows are poor is obvious but so is the solution- don't go to 'em . I've dropped out of shows that I didn't like for whatever reason - not always simply for  commercial reasons  . I can think of one show where the decider - the straw if you like was the smell of Jockstraps and wee wee and another where the ill- manners of the organsiers was the final clincher,
 Mr Hilton comments upon the commercial scene and product duplication are interesting to say the least - especially as he is in the biz himself and has contributed to the product duplication to an extent as in a way has anyone who has produced a range for a period that is already covered by somone else. Now currently we have more different product in more sizes from more makers than ever before so I'm not sure what his point is here- that some companies are seeking to dominate the market Workshop like with a limited number of products is - again obvious especially as those companies are run by ex-Workshop staffers who were handed the welly  BUT and its a big but there are plenty of other outfits- mine included - who do not follow that path. One wonders if Mr Hilton should broaden his out look just a tad.
 Likewise his views on the ageing of the hobby . Now for the record I don't own either Cardigan or Tartan Flask- or any of their aged derivitives. Despise meat paste sandwiches. God knows what kind of "Care Home Wargames Soeciety" Mr Hilton belongs to  but  ours isn't like that. I see more youngsters at shows that in former years- though by youngsters I don't just  mean children but rather twentysomthings and thirtysomething- most often  ex GW drones who have "woken up " . Even in our small and unrepresentative group  we have memebers under 40 So  we are not shambling to our dotage or  ready for the knackers yet by a long way
 That some shows need to sharpen their act is unarguable- but then so do plenty of wargamers- I'm in total agreement with Mr Hilton over the nay -sayers and the socially challenged - and especially the hygenically challenged- again see earlier posts on the blog - "In Vogue"  for instance..
I can go on about the hobby's public image  and indeed have -  on this blog and have said many thimes that we do this to ourselves. By propagating the nerd image Mr Hilton does not help (though I doubt propagation was huis intent ) I'm not sure the constant obcessi0n with the kiddy market is to the point either -  aim later Kids are too  young for much of this.  BUT no more friggin' meat paste sandwiches or flasks  burn your bllody Cardigans. Equally get rid of the awful T-shirts which might have been cool in 1975 but not now Oh and some of you- have a wash once in a weekend and when you - stand closer to the soap

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Victorian Steel -A review.

By Gum -Another review! Will Wonders never cease.!!
 Now as it happens I've had an interest in Colonila warfare almost since the beginning of my wargaming- indeed the first set of rules I EVER  wrote for myself were for the Indian Mutiny- that would be around 1972 when all the troops were Airfix conversions and nearly everything else was made from Cornflake packets.  Well thanks Goodness we have moved on .
 Now my library of books on various British Colonial Campaigns is pretty exstensive and contains a goodly number of comtemporay sources but I've always had a bit of a problem with Colonial games- somehow they never quite "feel" right.
Blue Moon Fuzzy- Wuzzies- Hadendowdah Tribesmen

So Gentle Reader when a copy of "Victorian Steel- Wargames Rules for the Colonial Era" arrived in the post I was somewhat intriguged.
 First the introductions, these rulesc are by Dave Tuck of the Grimsby club- and he knows his stuff. If you need proof see his articles in MW on the Boxer Risings in China.
These rules ostensibly cover the whole Victorian  Colonial era   but the accent seems to be on sizable encounters so I'm not sure if these rules would quite fit say the various Cape Frontier Wars in Southern Africa or the Maori Wars in New Zealand which were rather dominated by smaller individual actions
 However  they will fit admirably into the Sikh Wars  Indian Mutiny, The Sudan Campaigns  The Zulu War various NW Frontier Campaigns ,French Conquest of Algeria  The Boxer Risings  and even Spanish American War without too much bother.Oh and of course I have binloads of tasty troops in both 28 mm and 15mm for  many of these campaigns ...
The mechanics are simple- but not simplistic  even the mathematically challenged shouldn't have a problem here  Representation is basically 1 stand = 1 Company / Troop . for regulars or a similar sized body of around 100 men for the Tribal forces A single stand  can have as many or as few figures as you like and basing is not to the point of the game as long as both sides use a commonly agreed and understood system. The Rules say a 3 inch square base "if Starting from scratch" (and using 25/28mm) but make it clear that this is not mandatory.
 I'm tempted to use these for the Sudan in 15mm
 My only negative here is a personal and historical one and a quibble with the organisational nomenclature not with the rules .
 Apparently 4 or 8 or 12 "companies" make up a "Brigade "- So what happened to "Battalion " or indeed "Regiment" for the regular forces . Is accurate period language too difficult or complicated for today's Wargamers?
Old Glory 25/8mm British Command group. I'd use these to command a Battalion of  several companies.

 For much of the period a British Battalion would have 8 companies so 4 companies is technically a "wing"  and yes such a formation could and did fight  independently- though usually as part of a larger formation  for a distinct operation
 A cavalry regiment would usually have 2-3 squadrons each with  2-3 troops  and again Squadrons could be and were used singly. In a sense the rules have missed out the intermediate command level  but unless you knew this and actually care   then it won;t affect the "mere gaming" and its no big deal to build it into your scenarios  in the way you organise the troops for the game.
 So in conclusion a fine effort and definitely recommended for those chaps who fancy a bash at the Colonial ere

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Culinary Delights.

There are other things in life besides Wargaming and selling soldiers to chaps across the globe- this last week for instance its been Spain Canada, Finland and the Russian Federation  ,Oh and Italy  but there are times when Carole and I get sick of the little lead gits and hie ourselves off to  somewhere else. Usually our favourite Watering hole.
 The Causey Arch Inn.
 This is a fine hostelry- not as pretentious as some I've frequented-  those that  call themselves "Gatropubs"  and while the food may I say only may be OK the   air of "Pretentious? Moi?"  of the staff and some Clientele is not .

 So to the Causey Arch Inn-  Splendid place  with a strong farming based set of regulars. Indeed the place is owned by a farming family so all the produce is farm assured- even the game. On those occasions when Venison is available I can tell you within 3 or 4 blokes who shot it and where it came from.
 Now don't get me wrong here the Causey Arch is  not simply a farmers  pub- the Food is cracking too but the Chef- Michael  has managed an unpretentious "Bistro style "of cooking and presentation that Carole and I love. . This is more than "pub-grub"  but avoids the baggage of the "Gastropub" . Equally if you want simple food the standard menu- Steaks , Burgers Chicken and a veggie option amongst others  are all there ,freshly prepared. But Keep and eye on the Specials board- changed weekly -for here often lies treasure. In the recent past Carole and I have had a most superb Risotto, some excellent Salmon and a Lamb stew of pure quality. To say nothing of  sundry Steaks and Bangers and Mash(sauages from the Farm of course) and a cracking lasagna that have passed my lips. Real ale is also there for those of us with a palate- Usually 3 different local brews all of exceeding quaffability
 Check out the website

I've never so- far sampled the live music  but chaps who have love it . Me I go there for the Beer the Food and the laughs
 Highly reccomended.

Monday 8 September 2014

Phew!!! That's that lot done ... Now for ....

 So  with the exception of Salute thats the hardest wekend of the year done- not the miost lucrative but the hardest graft- setting up and pulling down twice in a weekend with  several hours sitting in a van- not to mention getting up  at dfist sparrow -fart- AFTER  you've done one show.- Well you just notice you've done it is all.
 So to the shows themselves- Border Reiver-  footfall definitely down on last year but then there were some communication issues which  I (the sponsor) will have to take up with the organisers.- Around half a dozen phone calls on the Saturday morning- after I'd left obviously - asking where  the show was ! - Including one that got my wife out of the shower! . There were  Border Reiver website issues also  again something I'll have to take up with the organisers .
 Quality of games- mixed to say the least with most of the players intent on playing and nothing that really piqued my interest- though the 54mm medieval thingy did stand ouit a bit  above the rest and the "operational" WW1  which was a bit clever but neither really my thing .
 the show could have done with another 3 or so games- there was plenty of room  but I suspect that finding chaps willing to do it is getting tough. as for example I saw neither Durham nor the IWG there . Yet Falkirk  had made it ... Odd that ....  Indeed only 7 games were listed- by club not by game .
So Sunday and Partixan a very different ball game- but still with issues. Once again the organisers had been royally shafted by the venue owners- who so obviously simply don't give a toss- and it shows..Due to the previous night "Indian Wedding"  several dozen square meteres of staging remind in the main hall  . this meant that  most of that space was unusable and the traders and games had to be crowded into the remaining space. Claustrophobia became an issue. Arses bending ove tables became an issue. Simply  moving about between tables was sometimes an issue.
 The normally smooth catering at this event was a complete joke. Lunch- forgert it - assuming you could get there  there were no sandwiches! Even the obligatory morning bacon buttie was decidely undefilled and flaccid(and overpriced) especially when compared to the splendid creations of the Buttie van at Gatehead!.(or indeed Luch at Gateshead  from the venue cafeteria- well above the norm for a Wargame show  possibly the best this yesr)
 However on the up side- the games were as always splendid looking with chaps wanting to talk to you about them- not that I had much time as I and the team were well busy ! knocking out gear to the chaps. So despite the crowding and other issues a fine time had by all .

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Pretty 15mm Moderns .

 I Have this morning received a package from Jez at Shakespear studios-  a fine painting service this  containing  painted examples of the latest 3 packs of my Firfore15mm range
  t So we have the 2 packs of Falklands war special forces- British and Argentinian and a command group for the Rhodesian Troopies.
The Falklands Brits will of course do for 1980s cold war scenarios too - which may be on the cards since I've just acquired a copy of Cold War Commander- nice looking ruleset- first impressions are that it may be a tad "gamey"("organisations "are based around the points system rather than the actuality or instance  )  for my taste but it does contain some neat little ideas. and may flow better in larger games than say  tank wreak or even Combined Arms- watch this space.
 However back to the plot  here without further comment are the pics of the new figures- all available from the OGUK website.
I'm talking to Him over there !

British  Special forces Falklands War

Argentinian "Buzo Tactico- or cdo 601 or 602

Command for the two packs of Rhodesian troopies already released.
I'll have packs of all of these plus the rest of the fireforce range at  Border Reiver this Saturday and Partizan on Sunday.