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Tuesday 31 May 2016

The Seven Years War -Jim the Builders method.

 Yesterday saw 5 TWATS assemble at our usual Hostelry for a game. Jim the Builder in the chair. Others present were Your Gentle Author, Andrew the Tekkie Floating Jeff and Mechanical Shaun.
 Now this in itself was somewhat  unusual as Jim had not run or even played a game for over a year due to pressure of work.. However he had done more than a bit in the painting arena. so this game- a dry run for the Demo at the Durham show on June 11th  -shows.

Photo of the main Austrian position -taken by Andrew the Tekkie.

 There were over 2000 10mm Prussian and Austrian figures on the table here. There will be more at the Durham game.  Jim decided to use Keithh Flint's Honours of War rules for the game as both sides had multiple brigades.  Jim opined that the game could take as many as 11 players so a simple set that could handle large forces was a must.  Me I had a few reservations but in the end most were groundless as we shall  see.

Here we see our Umpire Jim in "studious mode" in his new specs!!
For this game the Prussians fielded 15 battalion of infantry each of 60 figures 6 smallish regiments of cavalry of 18 figures each and 4 batteries of artillery- each 2 guns. The Austrians had fewer foot -8 battalions  but each of 80 figures but much more cavalry and about the same artillery. Their cavalry included an impressive 4 regiments of cuirassiers - against 2 Prussians.
 Unusually I took the role of Frederick the Average so being of a suspicious mind I suspected a stitching up but I was wrong- which in itself was a bit unusual . the fact that no stitching was planned rather than that I was wrong being the bit that was unusual.. Andrew the Tekkie  was also Prussian leaving Jeff and Shaun to  command the Austrians.

So on to Battle.
 The Austrians started badly and went downhill from there.Of their Generals 2 being rated "Dithering"  and the others steady whilst the Prussians got a "dashing" cavalry commander with all the rest Steady. This was to have CONSEQUENCES..
 The Prussian plan was simply to isolate the Austrians on their big hill and destroy the rest of their forces. Apparently some Russians were in the offing set to appear on the road below the Austrian hill. So by holding the other hill and using that as a pivot I reasoned I could pen both Austrians and possible Russians into a killing zone where we could take 'em at our leisure. Wonder of wonders it worked...
 First however we had to sort out the Austrian Cavalry under General Von un Zu Dithering. Polishing off the first Austrian cavlary Brigade frankly was almost a pushover due to a dshing General and some Austrian dithering- which was to become something of a feature of the day.
Generalview of the battlefield. The Russians may or indeed may not be entering from the Far end.

However the second Brigade would be a much tougher nut to crack.It was all cuirassiers. The net result after some prolonged fighting was that neither side had any worthwhile cavalry left. This of course suited the Prussians better than the Austrians.
 Meanwhile in the centre the Prussian Infantry advanced through the town- slowed by the streets . Their intention was simply to split the Austrian cavalry off from its Infantry  and as a secondary objective give support to our by now overmatched- but still fighting cavalry. Their timig was a bit off but they got there.
The Cavalry fight.Prussians advancing from the bottom of the picture.
 On the other flank the Austrian infantry brigade behind the hill- seemingly commanded by  General Von Feeble stood about- obviously he was a relation of Von Dithering ! . They managed to move towards the prussians just once during the whole game. This of course made me think that there was some dastardly Austrian plan- but there wasn't .  The fighting on this flank  was merely an artillery duel as I had no intention of spending my infantry in an uphill assualt until the Austrian cavalry had been neutralised.
The Austrian trapped on their Hill .
Once we had all our infantry in place we had succeeded. The Austrians could stay there all day and starve or die of thirst. Equally if the Russian did turn up they would have no room to deploy. Getting off that hill in any kind of order would be very difficult for the Austrians. So Fred the not quite so Average had done the deed.
Prussian Infantry advance.

 Figures were all Old Glory Grandscale 10mm from Jim's collection. I had a few niggles with the rules mostly about how bitty the brigade movement system was IGOUGOIGOUGO.... didn't flow all that well but having said that for a large game there are far worse sets about. Set unit sizes work better with the smaller scales than with 25/28mm. Jim's larger units look far better that the "4 stands" in the original rules.
 So at the Durham show on June 11th there will be a somewhat larger version of this scenario- so Jim tells me- more troops on each side  and a larger table.
Should be interesting.
 A more detailed post regarding the Durham show will appear here shortly..

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Painting and modelling as part of Wargaming.

Now I've always been of the opinion that the modelling side of the hobby was just as important to me as the dice rolling - indeed up to a point more so as I started out as a model soldier collector and modeller and in a roundabout way it was what to do with those Airfix tanks once you had built them that got me into the actual wargaming..
 Back in the day when all you could afford Airfix you did the best job you could with what you had to hand. On 70s  pocket money metal troops were rare and precious and were assiduously saved up for.
 Whatever you had you did the best job you could - for your own credits sake as much as anything else. You WANTED to be better at what you did as you gained skills and knowledge that was (and for me still is) part of being a wargamer. Dice rolling and counter pushing simply is not enough.

Some recently finished Foremost ECW- designed by Gilder in the 1970s. If we could afford it we didn't HAVE to use Airfix.

The Harman Syndrome.

Arthur Harman's piece in MW  hasn't half caused a stir. That he is  mostly wrong on so many levels is pretty obvious. However Robbie Roddis' point about being given the "oxygen of publicity"  is also in my view wrong. Of course he should. It's called Free Speech dude !  You can't make an arse of yourself if you can't utter a word now can you .
 What I found particularly galling about Mr Harman's piece was simply the idea that you should do something badly as shoddily as those penny plain tuppence coloured engravings of the Napoleonic Wars he cited. In their day they were the equivalent of a cheap paperback, sensationalist and often fictitious. Now there is nothing wrong with using them as a source but you should make it clear what they are  rather than use them merely as an excuse for doing something that is not the best job you can do.
 Is Mr Harman honestly trying to say that people of today are lazy, useless, feckless cretins who can't be bothered with anything that requires a little effort? Now there may indeed be evidence to support this assertion but I'd like to see it.  Simply asserting that good quality modelling and painting in our world puts people off is not good enough weather coming from Mr Harman or Mr. Shuck. Any evidence is bound to be anecdotal  so I can present the opposite case supported by equally anecdotal evidence. For example Paul our newest member has been a wargamer only a  couple of years  or less yet has painted respectable 28mm WW2 forces and has a good start on 15mm Napolenics (at which last he is a bit tasty). Equally some chaps in our small group don't paint or model at all  Floating Jeff buys most of his stuff off ebay- when he buys which is rare these days as he has a biggish collection. Andrew the Tekkie is just starting to paint a bit . None of these chaps are put off by others better standards/ It is the same in other clubs I know. Painting and modelling standards vary wildly from the fantastic to the simply adequate but none of these blokes deliberately do a crap job in case others are put off . The whole idea is utterly laughable..
Recently had a couple of good scores off ebay including these 4 "Willies" .
All I've done is rebase for my "Shinyloo" project.
more from the same ebay bundle. Again only rebased. Not everyone in the 1970s was painting badly.
Foremost French Cuirassiers from an earlier ebay score- but painted in the same 1970s style.

Meanwhile back on planet Earth.... 

Of course when it comes to non- Historical games then quite frequently the modelling standards are even higher as Fantasy and Sci- Fi don't have "history" to lean on . It's not my thing  any longer but by  gum some of these  people  can really model . Are the rest put off? I think not judging by the pandemonium in most GW stores of a weekend. Do the Workshop staff do a  deliberately crap job for the kiddies- of course not  no they do a sterling job teaching the noisy fractious  little brutes, me, I'd have laid about me with a handy  Chaos Doomblade years ago .... but then I don't thanks the Gods work for GW.

A superb Hinchliffe Carabinier. Again from the same lot as the Willies.
Rebased but thats all. My painting standard even at my best can't touch this.

Minot 30mm Brits backed by a single Stadden Dragoon Officer.
 All of the Napoleonic in this post are headed for "shinyloo".

Speaking for myself.

The fact that other blokes are better modellers than I has never put me off and in some ways my poor eyesight gives me more excuse than most- but bugger that! . There are chaps who are not as good at it as I also- never put them off either. Look at the photos on this post. Only the British Napoleonics and the ECW cavalry were painted by me. All the rest by chaps who knew what they were about. Most of the figures were painted some years - perhaps decades ago. There mere fact that they exist shows that "Lets be craps to get the newbies in is simply a load of b""""""s..

So its quite plain that for much of our hobbies recent history- say the last 40 years or more most chaps have been painting their models to the best of their ability. More recently the well heeled simply order it done- perhaps they always did. Nevertheless what IS abundently clear is that deliberately being crap at something- in wargaming as in most of life is not a realistic option .
Thank you and Goodnight !!

Later- a small postscript.
 When it comes to recruitment I'm not sure the emphasis on quick , simple games is always the way.
 At various times I've had to explain what I do to various non- wargamers . These range from courier drivers picking up parcels to chaps down the pub and even bankers and insurance men.
 I never had a real problem explaining the history or the modelling- indeed I've had the modelling part referred to as a "craft" . However explaining the gaming part  can be a bit difficult- even today . Even when they've heard of Games Workshop - which can be a two edged sword with a vengeance
 "What you mean with dice and stuff like that Games Workshop!? Isn't that for children?"

Batting on a sticky wicket or what Old Chap !!

Friday 20 May 2016

Miniature Wargames no 398

  Chaps who write for magazines are a funny lot. I know this as I am one of 'em! MW no 398 dropped on the mat yesterday and well since I'm all over the issue like a rash I have to be a bit careful.So leaving aside anything in it with my name on it here goes.
 The thorny issue of the ageing of the hobby comes up more than once and various solutions are proposed all of which seemingly forget that this is not one homogenous hobby but many different ones these days- some of which are not even  wargaming as their bits have no war in them. This is especially true of Brad Harmer-Barnes piece on Boardgames wherein he reckons that the way to get new blood into the hobby is to play fantasy and sci-fi games only, as what he calls VHS gaming is what drives the younger gamer- ie games inspired by videos and Cinema and he also opines that its all driven by Marketing. Now who am I a mere purveyor of models soldiers to argue with the might of Marketing. As it happens I think he paints the scene rather well though I object to  his solutions.It will be a cold day in Hell when I play a game with Zombies or Ghostbusters or Thunderbirds or Time travelling Nazi Robot Vampires or indeed any of the current crop of what Neil Shuck calls warband games. They are simply too limited in scope for my taste. Indeed of that whole crop of recent pulp games only Star Wars X wing even vaguely piqued my interest- until I saw the price for an even half decent set up. So no - although I suspect his overall premise may be correct and childishness abounds . I'll stick to wargaming with some War in it and not a Marketing man's wet dream..
 As always Neil Shucks column has interesting stuff in it and I can see I'm going to have to get a copy of Sharp Practice on Sunday at Partizan if I have time. However in point of fact - at least as far as Blue Moon are concerned 15mm Metal are cheaper that Perry Plastic Mr Shuck opines that metal 15mm are more expensive- not at My shop or indeed at several others His baseline is 3 boxes of Perry- so 60 quid from their website which gives you - in his example about 80 foot (Depending upon which boxes) and 12-14 cav. Now using Blue Moon your same 60 quid would get you 90 foot (3bags at 12quid each)and 15 cavalry-1 bag at £13.00 and still have £11.00 left over for some fiddly bits such as command or Rifles if you needed them. This as well as giving you many more pack options than the plastikrap  and not having to spend half your life assembling the bloody things. Now correct me if I'm wrong but more soldiers and 11 quid left over is hardy "more expensive"  than plastics ... not that I'd use my own cash on plastikrap anyhow ...  But having said that maybe Mr Shuck's 15mm  price examples were from AB/Eureka which would be more expensive,
Mind you the rest of the column is rather good especially the piece entitled "What attracts you to a game?" Despite the fact that Mr Shuck is far more "gamesey" that I will ever be I found myself agreeing with much of this.
 The Eastern Front in WW2 is not my thing. But the continuing series on wargaming its battles should be meat and drink to those chaps whose thing it is.
The Salute report was dammed useful as even though I was there I didn't see any of it so the report gave me a taste anyhow ....
 Another piece on the ageing of the hobby- by Clemmet and Davidson- I've known Tom and Dave for years. They have been part of the NE wargaming scene for  longer than I  by far so their thoughts and opinions are worth a read. I like their idea of the all inclusive show. I hope it works. Good Luck lads.
Fancy making an Eindecker or a sci- fi thingy- two articles show you how.
 There is also an article on skirmish gaming- Hmm not sure about this one. I've played enough assorted skirmish games in my time but somehow this article felt decidedly too general. Worse it just seemed a bit simplistic to me but perhaps that is becoming the way. "Leave your Brain at the door- become a Wargamer !!! "
Finally we come to Arthur Harman's piece- when Robbie Roddiss reads it he'll go spare !
Mr Harmans contention is that the emphasis on  high quality modelling   in some rulesets, books and Magazines puts people off joining the hobby therefore such is neither necessary  nor possibly desirable. He harks back to the early badly painted Airfix days and uses  mass produced 19th century engravings of Napoleonic battles to show us the way.
Talk about selective. Now his basic premise is right- fine artwork is not AND HAS NEVER BEEN a prerecquisite for enjoying wargaming but to fudge the issue this way is to say the least a little misleading. Also I don't accept that being good at something puts other off. By that train of thought there would be, for example,  no Sunday league Football because the small amateur teams would be put off by Manchester United. There would be no amateur photographers because they couldn't be David Bailey. I know plenty of wargamers who can't or won't paint or model.. That is their choice. There are plenty of other who paint and model to standards acceptable to themselves. That is their choice. I'm afraid "Lets all be crap to get the kiddies in" simply does not wash' as much as anything else its so bloody patronising.
 The only reason I used Airfix back in the day was because I could afford no better. The only reason my painting was truly crap was because I hadn't learned how- and yes I'm still learning!.
 That some modern rulesets are eye-candy heavy is true but that is the God of Marketing to which we must all pay Homage its not automatically a wargaming thing.For period inspiration why not try Baron Lejeaune Napoleonic battle painting  or perhaps some Victorian Genre artas well as  the "penny plain tuppence coloured" of Mr Harmans world?
 Of course the big difference is technology -we didn't have any- today you don't need models to play wargames you can do it on your phone without engagement of brain. So you'd have to actually like the models to engage in this hobby. If you like the models specifically you are more likely to want them to look goodand they will be an important part of the game to you so I'm afraid lets all be crap falls down on another level too.
When it come to new blood for God's sake stop obcessing about children- you'll get arrested !!!  New blood trickles in all the time though more of it tends towards Mr Harmer-Barnes end of the street than mine. So be it.
Nevertheless SOMEBODY is buying shedloads of soldiers. I'm busier than I've been for years
 Oh by the way- See you at Partizan on Sunday.

Monday 9 May 2016

Carronade- best Club show of the year ?

 A fine day on Saturday 7th May saw the crew and I up before the Larks (does that make us Pill-larks !! probably) to drive to Falkirk for Carronade with a van stuffed with soldiers. Fog in  Northmberland and the borders slowed us down more than a bit- visibility in parts down to 10 metres- Jim was driving using the force!
 However be that as it may once there and unloaded - fortifies by 'orrible coffee and a fine bacon and egg buttie the day began.
 I really do like this shiow. It is usually busy and friendly with lots of different stuff happening- this year was no exception and indeed perhaps better than last year. Considering how similar it is- in terms of  the heritage and condition of the cachement area ( lots of one time heavy industry and years of economic depression) it is amazing how different it was from a show of similar size in a similar area- to whit Battleground in Middlesbrough. You couldn't have to more different events.  Especially as a couple of the attending clubs were present at both.

 Carronade is a little cracker. I already have my name down for next year.
 As for the games - despite a rash of "boutique games" on tiny tables of 4 feet square or less there (and again those put on by "companies" I never saw beibng played)were still enough proper wargames to awake my interest- including at least 2 naval games . One a tiny scale Jutland and the other a fine 1/600th scale Russo- Japanese War game  using ships by none other than Old Glory - so yes I'm biased but nevertheless the models had been beautifully finished. It seemed to be a co-operative effort  between the Border Reivers Club and the Contemptible Little Wargames club - since chaps I knew from Both outfits were playing.
 There were plenty of other games too  a rather large Ancients game and best of all Westerhpoe Wargamers splendid Battle of Assaye,
 Check out their clubs report on the event here .
 Also I do by Gum like their attitude- historically based games played by blokes who read the actual books.. Bloody Well done lads!

 So yes I'll be back to Carronade next year.