Search Glorious Little Soldiers

Thursday 26 November 2015

The Use and Abuse of History or is it ?

The Abuse of History.

 On Sunday mornings I try to take it easy, watch a bit of News and chill dude.! So last Sunday I caiught part of some discussion programme where 4  people were discussing The British Empire. Needless to say PC reared its smooth narrow  and ignorant head immediately.
 According to one "writer"  the British had "invaded India" -despite searching through my many volumes of Indian History I failed to find any evidence of this at all - no date when the fleet landed its troops no location nothing ,nada, nix ,nowt. Needless to say India at the supposed time of this "invasion" did not exist as one coutry. The Mughal Empire was falling to bits and war was a normal part of political life but let not mere facts get in the way of his royalties on his next set of packeaged crap Further the maker of a programme on Sophia  Singh opined that her grandfather Ranjit Singh- founder of the Sikh state had "fought for Freedom and Justice" and that the Punjab was peaceful under his benign rule (!!!!!) and implied that this fighting was against the British- Ranjit of course never fought the British and was dead before the Sikh Wars began indeed the HEIC were his allies and of course the Khalsa invaded  British  India not the other way around. Entirely ignoring the facts  or actually lying to re-enforce a fashionable  politically correct dogma is now common amongst "popular" historian/journalists of a certain stamp. In the same programme some social media numpty opined that the USA had dragged "us"- ie the UK into all its wars in the last century thereby demonstrating an astonishing ignorance of the actual facts- (WW1 and WW2 for a start) wonder if he was the same ignorant pillock who recently said that Jim Callaghan had been a US President!
 Obviously all of this lot regularly  attend Thickies R Us

Now we  Historical Wargamers abuse History all the time- using  it for our own  quite minor ends but rarely if ever with the misleading  motives of the above or rarely being that thick despite  my occaisional waspish assertions to the contrary ). Not only that but those of us who actually take notice of History know when we are abusing it and also - mostly - know where and why we are doing so . Hopefully at our best we are like Historical Novelists- the ones who put "Historical Notes" at the end of their novels- say well "This is what actaully happend and this is where I deviated from it for my novel "

So do we go down the PC route or do we as chaps who know whereof we speak "Keep the Faith" 

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Miniature Wargames no 392

 Well there is a bit of a turn up after 3 months of struggling to get hold of a voucher copy of the mag. I finally get one on time- actually 2 copiesthis time- just like buses!  As an advertiser who spends cash every month  a "voucher copy"  should be normal  but of late I'd been having bother and had  emailed  Media Shed  (the advertising agents) and Henry who had each time sorted it out . But today was the first time since August I had not had to  go into chase mode !  So Nice one Henry and Nice one Media Shed !
 As it happens this issue is pretty tasty too.
And in case you readers of the last two issues were wondering - no I'm not in it !
FranzEharts article "King of the Battlefield" is a little craker- this lad knows his stuff and its great to see chaps studying their chosen periods in depth - I know plenty of chaps do- but you don't see the evidence  that often in the pages of the magazines..

 Marcus Wheeler sking game - though not to my taste- how is strapping 2 planks to you feet and chucking  yourself down a moutain fun - was nevertheless ingeniuos and the sort of thing you might like a go at once or twice- likewise Jim Websters slave revolt mini-campaign- of which I found the historical background just as interesting as the possibility for a few skirmish games. A second Ancient Naval game in what 6 months- thats good going by any standards but I still have to study that- add 2 articles on how to make stuff and we are filling the mag with some unusual articles Topped off by Henry's own on the Fortifications of Cadiz and yes  chilled Fino  with Tapas-  love it !
 I even read some of the columns- Treads did his usual Fantasy Facts- which whilst not being a Fanstasy chaps I always check out for any Sci-Fi I might fancy- after all I did buy 7TV- the last version - for a mere £15.00 now the new one is out for £40.00- but I don't care for me it is entriely superfluous and  when I saw the price of the new figures to go with it- 'Kinelle!!  3 and 4 quid a figure .
 Why is a lot of non- historical stuff SO much more expensive.... Because you buy it that way Dudes!!
 Neil Shucks column had me nodding and swearing at the same time Nodding - as someone whio has been over the pond to a few US shows- always Historicon but severalvisits ove the years I agree with the whys and wherefores of his assesments and have said so  in print a few times over the years but you should see the trader hall at Historicon-
" Zulus Sir Fahsands of 'em!"
 and there's me doing a stint behind the OG US stand having to read the bloody money cos its all the same colour and add- in my head 7.5% state sales tax ! A Good laugh though!....and the leggy Blonde in the Tex-Mex restaurant ....America does have its attractions even if I found it easier to buy a gun than a beer in rural Pennsylvania   and no I never saw a "Demo- Game" on the British model at any of the US shows I've been to but then the set up is very different with "booking" your place at a game and being expected to turn up if you have booked inand many gsames being for a set number of people for a set time- so in the programme it will say 6 players 3 hours often with some notion of the experience level required...
 As for "The Cult of the New"- this had me gnashing my teeth. I'm not saying he's wrong  but he seems to have forgotten- like many current  commentators who are GAMES obcessed that at least part of this hobby is about collecting model soldiers- or toy soldiers if your prefer so "new" is a relative term- I still sell ranges that are  20 years old as well as loads of newer stuff and even stuff that is only a few months off the design bench- much of this is "new" to the individual who buys it if he is beginning a "new" army for a "new" period.
 Yes despite the deluge of "games" chaps still do that.
But overall a good mag with stuff to read in it and for adults too
 Nice One Henry .... 

Friday 13 November 2015

Modern Wargamers ????

 Now this is really a continuation and a reply to the chaps who commented on my "Is there another way perhaps"  post.and indeed contibuted to the discussion- which was rather the point
 To me at least it is pretty obvious that the "Broad Church" idea is  if not actually  dead is  no longer  quite apt as a metaphor.
" In my fathers House there are many mansions" - perhaps  devil a doubt, but the idea of "wargaming" being one hobby -  no I think not and it probably never really was. The potential scope is simply too vast- despite what the Games Designer Dudes tell you.
 There are common threads and doubtless some fella will come up with that clever circle-cum triangular diagram whose name I've forgotten to tell me that yes really all this is nice and happy and mutually inclusive and that we should all have a group hug. Well no thanks- Happy it may be and indeed is but all inclusive  Not really except insofar as we all enjoy what we do - which is the main point.
 According to Norm's defintion I'm not a "True Wargamer" and according to mine he is  mostly a "Boardgamer" or simply a "Gamer"  Neither of us is actually  wrong. Now as it happens  I don't define myself as a Wargamer - not usually anyway . It's a useful shorthand but does not go the whole hog Compleat Wargamer - for me comes closer- including the waltonian spelling of complete. But really I'm a historian who plays games sometimes- the history part being more to the point than the games part- hence my loathing of  DBA
 Steve makes the point that playing DBA does not stop you researching the history and of course he's absolutly right but if you know your history what the hell use is DBA  other than as a dice rolling contest and a game with more akin to snakes and ladders than to Ancient warfare. of course if you simply want a game with a funny name and some silly jargon it fits the bill perfectly (Yes I know I have a major Blank where the DB's are concerned  I've played 'em and they all seem the same to me. I really can't see the point and in 25 years. No-One has been able to enlighten me as to what actually is the point. Especially as this is one of those times when boardgames could do it better . Indeed I'd actually class dba and DBR as mediore to poor Baordgames. DBR still has my vote asWorst Crap Ever Produced in the Hobby (section 2 Rules) )
 Equally  from the perspective of a  toy soldiers first type of "wargamer" DBA and its ilk are not toy soldier friendly- thus neatly removing one of the reasons for  being a "Wargamer " in the first place- at least if you are British...
 Yes I'll expand on that- my perception over many years is that in the USA  a Wargamer was a chap who played war based boardgames- Avalon Hill SPI  etc and figure based games were  if not exactly second -fiddle were not exactly first port of call either. In the UK - thanks to Featherstone et al  the Figure based games were to the fore much more- Featherstones books barely mention Boardgames and Wise devotes only a short chapter. A recently acquired copy of Tunstill "Discovering Wargames" - from 1971 does not mention Boardgames at all.  Indeed there are separate books on Boardgames and Board- Wargaming. This side of the Pond they have a perceived separate genisis. Most of the major Boardgame publishers were (still are???) American  SPI, AH Yaquinto The Wargamers etc.  Panzerfaust, an early US magazine was boardgmes orientated - its offshoot Campaign  became history and later  miniatures.
 My point being in this instance simply that it is hardly surprising that Norms perceptions and preferences should be different to mine.
The Classic British books are figure centric- this is not always the case in the US- Look at Morchauser and his squared board. Many of today's games- see Robbie Roddis "Blucher" games- as an example(Mustapha being American I believe.)    have the toy soldiers as mere counter decoration  whereas I still want those pesky little men to the fore. I don't - at least not all the time want pretty counters but models of actual regiments.
 So this is beginning to look like a mere catalogue of my personal likes and dislikes- not really the point- see my piece in MW391 for more on THAT
 No I think what I'm driving at is to get some kind of picture of "today's wargamers" if that mammoth task is remotely possible. For many the accent seems to be on the actual play - like junkies they have to have a fix- of dice rolling  NOW
 Now that kind of thing may be the case in many households but not in all by any means. What I see is a much more fragmented hobby, simply because there is so much stuff about you can't be intrested in ALL of it- even assuming you were well heeled enough to afford it- most recently another massive wallet catcher from the Stars Wars X- wing con- job 80 quid for a plastic spaceship ! Garnferkyersel!
"But I can put it straight onto the table and play with it immediately"
 Assuming you've already spent the 90 quid of so on the basic core set - Its Geordie  lawyer time again
 Hadaway and Shyteman!

Obviously being time poor our "Modern Family Wargamers" have money to burn!
So we have the new situation comedy show

 "Modern Wargamer Family "!!!  Episode 1

"Joe thought wistfully of the Imperial Guard he finished painting last night"

Que jaunty "comedy" music and canned laughter (Depressing isn't it- I bet they use the word "fun" a lot)
 Joe Wargamer is in the  kitchen  opening some microwaved steams in a particularly nauseating fashion.
..."But Darling I want to  re-fight Waterloo tonight with Murgatroyd  and the lads at the club.. told you about it- its on the calender....
 Ms Fleur Smith- Brown - Wargamer shrieks from upstairs.
"Waterloo- no chance that will take at least 3 whole hours.
 You have to get Jocasta to her Mud Wrestling and Pole Dancing seminar by half -past  then pick pick up Tarquin from his Larceny and Financial Management Class- you do want him to be a Merchant Bsanker don't you !! "...
 And YOU PROMISED Tarquin a game of ZOMBIE BLOOD  MASSACRE 27 so he can have the red dice with skullz on - it will be fun  won't it- she adds menacingly as she enters the kitchen.."And did you finish painting his EFFINDEAR Miniatures Plastic Zombies or were you reading books again and fiddling about with" - she glared testily-"historical stuff!!" She sniffed audibly in marked disapproval -
 Joe stares at the dull khaki of his cooling Hummus and swallows hard. Thinking wistfully of the   Imperial Guard he finished painting last night. .
 But Sweetness ...." started staring  fondly at the  top of her purple hair.
"No Buts" she continues as she laces up her  red leather 14 hole Doc Martins "When I get back from my "Personal Self- Defence  attack dog training class" with Fluffy here (at this a sleeping Rottweiler in the dog basket  opens a lazy eye) we can all have a game of  "Overpriced Spaceship Battle" and all have "fun" together  rolling lots of dice ....

More canned laughter........whether we like it or not .....may the fun never start .....

Is this more stuff that Joe Wargamer will never get to use ......

But that is their choice of course - and again that's the point. The choices do exist.and it works both ways- which is the part some really hate. Some of us are wise enough to eschew  this weeks fashion and do the stuff we actually like doing- whether it be "Traditional Wargaming" or something else.

Wednesday 4 November 2015


 Now regular readers will know that the Tantobie Warfare and Tactical society are not a competition orientated group. Quite the reverse in fact. Therefor it may  come as a bit of a surprise to see the title of this post.
 Yes we decided to do a "competition" - of sorts

Gauls vs Greeks Shaun and Steve  punching it out !
Saturday saw 5 members gather at our usual pub. Present were your Gentle Author, Andrew the Tekkie, Theatrical Steve, Mechanical Shaun and Flaoting Jeff
 We set up 2 small tables each around 5feet by 4feet  troops were 15mm provided by Shaun and Jeff  4 armies were used Gauls, Hoplite Greek, Roman Republican and Later Carthaginian.. I organised each army as Tactica "Half Armies- halving the number of units rather than their size. This hopefully meant that there would be time for 2 games per player
 As Umpire my task was to adjudicate any disputes and impose fines for taking things too seriously!- Though this latter task was not required and  the phrase "Fine, 1 pint" was not uttered ! (Though the  similar phrase "Yo!Minezapint!"  certainly was)

Jeff and Steve grind away !!! (all double entendres entirely intended ! ) This of course was Roman Republicans and Gauls
 The first pair of games saw Andrew (Carthaginian)  taking on Jeff  Roman Republic while Shaun used his own Greeks against his own Gauls- which were commanded by Steve.
 In tactica the main skillsa player needs are in the area of deployment- a good deployment can increase your chances of Victory whilst a poor deployment may seal your fate in short order- especially if you throw bum dice.. The basic system is simple withoput being simplistic- the mechanisms are straightforward but with enough intrest to keep you on your toes
 As these were half size armies the no of battleine units that had to break was as follows
 Gauls2 48 figure units
 Carthage 2 24 figure units
Rome 4
Greeks 2 (32 figure units)
The Roman units were of course only 12 figures strong- thy had 4 each of Hastati Priceps and 2 Triarii. This made the a tough propoition.
 The Galic masses were big- but unweildy and  having little armour in theory died faster .
 So off we go
Andrew's Carthaginian Elephants died in a hail of D6. As always Jeff's dice rolling was almost legendary- 6 dice needing 6s to kill  and the bugger gets 5  in one lot... It would be wrong to say the Romans had a total walkover but for the Carthaginians it all went downhill from there. Andrew- well out of his comfort zone dealing with swords and spears instead of 120mm guns and ATGW was heard to tommuter darkly about bloody primitives ! The Roman and Carthaginian heavy cavalry induldged in a bit of MAD each laying about them manfully then both failing the restultant morale test and routing.
 Then the Roman mincing machine got going the Pila went in followed by a sword charge  and it was curtains for the Carthies....
 On the other Table Steve squared off against Shaun for a much closer punch up ! Gallic tactics were simple consisting of one word - Charge!  Though Steve held back one Infantry Warband in reserve- letting his archers -a single 12 figure unit have a shoot at the unit of Hoplites which slightly outwinged him. The Greeks advanced in a nice solid line covered by some  skirmishers- which the Gallic Javelin skirmishers charged and sorted out - despite Steve's muttering about dice! . As the Battle lines clashed it was nip and tuck for a while but the reserve warband smashed the archery weakened Hoplite unit and when the second  unit- of 4 broke it was all over for the Greeks- their army decamping faster than their Economy !

 All Change
We set up the second set of games  with Jeff's Romans now taking on Steve's Celt's and Shaun having a bash at the Carthaginians.
 At this point as it by magic Beef Butties and chips appeared
 Break for Lunch was the unanimous cry !

Second Round.
Second round- Shauns Greeks get deep

The second round of battles was to be a bit tougher. The Gauls and the Romans squared off  for a major bloodbath. Neither side used any subtlety at all  and pretty soon is was a simple grinding match - with the Romans having an advantage in manoureability- offset up to a point by the sheer size of the Gallic units.
 On the other table Shauns Greeks had formed up deeper than previously and on a shorter front. Andrew Elephant charge started well and his Spaniards destroyed the Greek Peltasts. On his other Flank the Greek cavalry were put to the Sword and it all looked really good. The Greek flanks were in serious trouble.
 Then the Elephants died....

Just before it all went Pear shaped for the Carthaginians.

The Spanish - in too long a line took and age to wheeel into the Greek flank...
The Carthaginian cavalry on the opposite flank  charge a Hoplite unit in flank - 24 dice needing 5 or 6  for kills- 4 kills ...Oh  Bugger!  may have been uttered- not enough to cause a rout.  It took another move .
 In the centre the 3 deeper hoplite units ground through the Citizens and Africans 3 units against two smaller but thinner ones could only end one way. The Carthaginian centre broke and it was all over.
 Has the Carthaginian centre mangaged to hold for that one more move the Victory would have been theirs.
Back on table one the  bloodbath continued eash side claiming THEIR dice were crap when they were actually evenly matched..
 Then a Miracle occoured!  I've played Tactica off and on since it first appeared in 1989(though in my memeory it seems longer !) and I've never seen it happen before- BOTH armies suffered their own breaking points inthe same turn . Therefore Both armies lost- and won .... So the Umpire declared a draw.

For us this  set of games was deliberately lightweight fare. Something different from out usual stuff and was none the worse for that.
 Maybe next year we'll run another TWATS TINY TACTICA TOURNAMENT.