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Friday 19 December 2014

Three musketeeers conducting a small orchestra ???


A Bunch of Old Willies .....

No, now wait a minute -  Titter ye Not! . The above is not another bash at the OFW crowd- far from it  In fact both of the titles refer to  the nearest I have to a regiment of Suren ECW figures. By the standards of todays knowledge they are a bit odd. Over armoured pikemen and musketeers in the costume of the 1620s, or earlier- taken straight out of De Geyn and frankly a bit too posh for the soldiery of the 1640s. More like the well of  chaps who were members of the various "Military Gardens" or Artillery Societies of the pre- Civil war dats  than the rank and file of the Oxford army or  Essex's Parliamentarians..
 Nevertheless they are pretty enough and worth the painting- so I did. partly to illustrate the diiferences in  knowledge  between "back in the day"- these are at least 40 years old if not considerably more- and now.

 Title picture? These 3 musketeeers are holding little batons in their right hands- presumably supoosed to be ramrods.... just out of the picture is the orchestra they are conducting ...
A single Willie on a horse !- the only "ECW"  mounted Suren  I currently have. He would fit well into Early TYW armies but is decidedly old fashioned by 1642
 Currently the unit- based upon Lord Stamford in Essex's army have 14 pikemen and a mere 9 musketeers. I have a couple more pikemen about but only 1 more musketeer somwhere.
The rest of the unit- all of which are Old Willies!.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Battle of Borcka- Northern Turkey 1992

 So- a somewaht late desptch this as I've been somewhat busy with Crimbo and the like. Nevertheless several regualr TWATS gathered at our local pub for a game on the 22nd November.
 Andrew the Tekkie in the chair- so it meant I actually got to play.with my own toys as -predictably it was a modern scenario .
 We'd decided to move away from "Harraq" as the T-72s were sick of getting a total kicking. therefore wemoved north under the ovecast skys of Northern Turkey - near the border with the Republic of Georgia- check it out on Google maps -
 So the basic scenario

Battle of Borcka  November 1992

General Situation .
 A pro- Russian coup in the new Republic of Georgia has brought General Vladimir Illyich Donchaferkov into power. A Georgian by birth and Russian army trained this man is a Cold Warrior of skill and courage.
 In order to “free”  ethnic Georgians across the border in Turkey he has ordered his – largely Russian -  “Josef Stalin” armoured Battle group to cross the border and secure the town of Borcka . Currently undefended. Indeed the Generals forces have been joined by small numbers of  Rebels  of T’urdish ethnicity with a few clapped out T-55 – supplied by Guess Who? 
 These rebel leaders   of the Total Union of Revolutionary Democrats are also Moscow trained
 In iorder to show Nato solidarity the 69RM cdo Battlegroup- which was on exercise In Turkey has moved up to the town of Borcka but may not get there before the lead elements of the rebels and Russian forces arrive. The Battlegroup has been joined by A sqn North-West Durham Yeomanry ( Commercial Volunteer Light Dragoons) with their Scimitars as an additional recon element but is otherwise as previos  orbats for 69Cdo Battlegroup.
 Weather overcast  with rain and high winds .

The Game

 There were 4 players plus Andrew as Umpire  I -for a change commanding the Russians so I could see what it felt like to die gloriously...  with Shaun as  Infantry commander. Tom taking his usual role as British commander.. Jeff decisded to command the Ireregular forces of the T.U.R.D. on the principle that as he was likely to get a kicking anyway then he would be able to blame his forces -" being Irregular crap" rather than sany mistakes he might make .....
Rules as usual were Command Decision - Combined Arms- with a few tweaks . Photographs were all taken by Andrew as I was too busy  trying to salvage something from what was sure to be an unholy wreak ...
Scimitars of the North West Durhan Yeomanyry(Commercial Volunteer Light Draggons) advance towards Borcka.

 I wasn't wrong ... but not quite in the way I'd thought.
 The game began with a nasty surprise for the Russian forces- the British battlegroup had already reached Borcha!
 "Buggerski "  thought I and immediately planned for an assualt.
Buggerski!! - the British already in Borcka.

Zulu Company 69RM throw back the first Russian assualt
To the east of the town the Irregulars were fumbling about in the hills pushing their tanks forward to be engaged by the Light Dragoon scimitars. Early fire was exchanged and a Scimitar destroyed  (Yipee!!)
 On the opposite flank masses of  T-72s were gathering  to attempt to pus back the British Challengers on the outskirts of Borcha- supported by BMP2 and BDRM with AT launchers forming an advanced Gun line.
 Indeed it was the BDRM that scored first blood on this flank taking out a Challenger- but the BDRMs died in the doing of that brave deed- a sole survivor fleeing- smoke pouring from all orifices !
 Meanwhile in the centre Shaun had launched an Infantry assualt on  the hill covering the town . However Zulu Company of 69RM was waiting and gave his assualting companies such a kicking that they lost all interest in the proceeding for  several turns - being pinned at the base of the hill then scuttling back to their vehicles.
Got one !!  A Challenger falls to ATGW. The BRDMs were wiped out next turn.

The Russian advance. T-72  Charge!

 Now the T-72 assualt went in . Once again we found that we had to be sucidially close to the challengers to get them  but we got 2 as we lost 5 tanks  or was it 6 - at least 1 tank going dowen to Milan fire from the Infantry in the town . By the standards of the time this was a reasonable exchange- especially since we also killed a WEMIK and a Viking. However the storm of fire was too much and 2 of 3 companies broke and  had to rally and re-organise  - leaving ony Regt HQ and a single company to act as rearguard . It was short, vicious and confusing just the way you might imagine a modern armoured engagement would go .
The time imperative had beaten us- the rest of our  Infantry moveing at foot pace were only now arriving on the table despit comandeering local  cars. The Ireegulars were stuck on thier hill  to the east  and had not even opend up with their Chinese built MLRs as it was stuck in the  low ground behind the hill.
Close up of the Russian assualt.

   It had been a close game. The British had suffered more losses than in any previous modern game.  Air power wasn't used this time and now I'm convinced that the Apache has been a battle winner every trime it has turned out. Had I had only a few more T-72  we could have been contenders !
 Once again Jeans Beef Butties were magnificent and sundry Beers were drunk  in the niormal mannerand a convivila time had by all  - which after you get past the dice rolling is surely what is all about.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

The death of the Middle-sized show ???

 Now Battleground on the 29th was only half an hour or sop down the road for me and the crew - but was it worth it- well honestly no it wasn't.
 Bearing in mind my earlier questions regarding the new venue for what was really a re-vamped local show
the venue and its surroundings looked somewhat like a recently redecoated  city block in East Berlin in 1972- Housink for ze Prolitariat  , though probably actually  student halls of Res- same difference perhaps !
 The access was horrible- lots of doors you couldn't get you van near so everyone and his brother is unloading into one door - with very little road access. Design by committee perhaps !!
 Next - because the other doors were inaccessable the trollying distance was equivelent to a half marathon - and I wasn't the worst by any means .
 None of this was the organisers fault- other than perhaps the choice of venue in the first place- but then there is often little choice in these areas wherever you live.
 Plus points the venue was light enough and - despite being a sports hall didn't smell of jockstraps and wee wee.
 Catering- well none the Caff was across the car park and provided cardboardy tea and adequate - if flaccid bacon butties. I've had worse.... much worse, usually at Partizan 
Games- after you had seen the ones you'd already seen before -so Border Reivers Vietnam  A nice Operaltional level WW1 a 54mm Waterloo A. N. Other western Gunfight then you were left with one game- Robbie Roddis  Renaissence  one- nice- actually that would apply to all of those I've already mentioned as well  as for the Rest there was a 20mm WW2 which I never saw anyone playing or even at the Table and  the rest were dross, 4 foot table  dross crewed by people who simply wanted to fiddle with dwarfs or wizards or cards- some of these put on by companies trading at the show so having an axe to grind but all simply looking like a bad club night.. Of the 15 or so games the majority- say 2/3rds ish  were like this. Godawful . No wonder most of the punters had legged it by 1.30. Once again not directly the fault of the organisers.
 Part of the problem is the current popularity of what my mate Ken Natt calls- rather appositely- "Boutique games"   4 foot table a dozen figures a side or less  or simply open the box and play- not  the stuff you expect to see as show demos or even P P but they are starting to infect the show circuit- saw evidence of it at Donnington but because there were plenty of other games then it wasn't so obvious. Here such crap was in the majority. Now they may PLAY well but they look like s*** at an event that is supposed to showcase the hobby  4 dweebs sitting around a 4 foot tablel mumbling to each other and ignoring the public reall REALLY helps .... NOT!!
 Such stuff is very well and good at club night but not at a show ... 
 It seems that "Wargaming" as most of us understand itmay be  on the decline at middle sized smaller catchement area shows such as this those run or even partly organised by "Gaming clubs"  which is usually a euphanism for "crap fantasy and unpainted GW played here". There was also evidence of this sort of stuff at this years War Torn, Now I've often thought that to be done well Fantasy and Sci-Fi are actually harder than historicals as they often don't have such a strong crutch as history to lean on - though they may have a six foot thick Fantasy or Sci-fi book series of endless turgidity  instead  but the number of decent lookng fantasy/sci-fi games at shows seems to be on the decrease. The Warlords "Thunder- Run" being a fine recent exception. Many of the others - especially when run by Commercial Companies rather than clubs fall into the "Boutique Games" trap. Now I can rememebr quite a ferw Fantasy games over the years which- while I may not have wanted to splash the cash did pique my interest. - A latemedieval/ Renaissence game with plenty of Leanardo's War machines springs to mind as does a game which seemed to consist of floating islands- beutifully modelled and a wonderful 1970s pastiche called Diamond Geezers. All well able to stand alongside any Waterloo or Mons or whatever other historical  display you care to mention.
Where in this welter of "plug and play" boutique games has all the imagination gone !!
 That the organsiers had done a respectable job is not in doubt  Weather such shows can survive in the commercial hurly- burly  with out more support from the gaming public is another matter entirely