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Sunday 29 April 2018

Retro Rules- Rule -well sometimes.

 Saturday 28th April saw a gathering of four of our meebership at our usual venue and watering hole for the April Game.
 Andrew the Tekkie was in the chair and opted for a WW2 game in 15mm using the 1970s rule set Operation Warboard by Gavin Lyall.
 A full battle report can be read on Andrew's Blog

So I will confine myself to  a few observations on what was a rather good game with significantly more than lip service paid to the history involved than is usual in more  recently published "games" .
 For a first game using this system the whole thing flowed exceedingly well. Leaving the mechanics in the hands of the Umpire is- for us- always the way to go. The Umpire IS the rule book - and -being human- can  throw we players curve balls at his leasure and, when all works well,  elevate the whole affair to something more than a mere dice rolling exercise.
  So we actors upon his stage must simply don our motley and play our parts. Therein lies the "fun" but in order to play our parts we have to have some glimmering of knowledge  outside of the pages of the rule book otherwise what the hell is the point. I might as well play snakes and ladders.
An Me 110 gives some poor British transport a proper Strafing 

Which brings me to  the latest issue of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy- this issues there- Raiding during the ACW is well handled and indeed the whole magazine has plenty of reading in it though I do find some of the attitudes expressed really rather narrow minded. This narrow mindedness is most ably expressed in The Irregular" column by one Ian Beal. Entitled "Don't be a Bore It's just a game" it is yet another paen of praise for the supremacy of the game designer over other mortals. Another sharp telling off to anyone who actually does his own research and dares to come to his own conclusions.  That may not be what Mr Beal intended  but by Gum that is how it reads. Such narrowness is equally as annoying as Mr Beals chosen  Betes Noir "wargames bores who have once  read an Osprey" . Now I am not witout sympathy here but surely informed discussion and debate is part of what we do?. At a show- where you are on public display  (and therefore should perhaps expect to get shot at) it is also ill- mannered (though perhaps less so in the confines of "club- night" ). However overriding all this that that now common and  rather childish attitude of " I don't want to use my brain I only want to play a game" which - for me often seems to reduce our hobby to nothing more than dross. This is examplified in Mr Beals piece by his description of one of his WW2 games "The Stuart was the last remaining vehicle running around the table trying to keep out of the way of the big guns". I suspect that by his light all of our group would be classed as "wargame bores"- to which we would object mightily "history bores " though ... perhaps not so much.
 Now don't gety me wrong here if that is the way he enjoys his hobby fine go ahead but  don't assume I or anyone else  has the same narrow game -centric attitude. Don't assume that we cannot read somewhat more than an Osprey in our chosen periods. Don't assume that game designers must be right.
 However having said all that and dished it out a bit I find myself in complete agreement with his penultimate paragraph. This is what we normally do. Give a set of rules a good airing and decide which bit we like and which bits (or even the whole book) go in the bin. But we don't do this for reasons of mere game we look deeper than that. Therein lies the fun.

Saturday 21 April 2018

When the Overflow Gets To Your Bottom Lip .

On my Farcebook page recently I posted that I was finally putting many of my 40mm figure up for sale as I simply don't use them anymore. The Napoleonic and ACW forces have not rolled a dice in anger for at least 4 years. It may be even longer the Napoleonic have not been out in force sine the Derby show at the University- even if I have added a few models since then with the intention of fighting small action or affairs of about a brigade a size - like Cacabellos  for instance. However in the intervening time my tastes have changed   I'm back into pike and shot in a big way- especially the ECW -with a side order of TYW and Ottoman Turks. My Napoleonic urge has found its home in  "shinyloo"  and I'm afraid I've lost interest in the ACW almost completely. But I want to increase my Indian Muting and other Colonial era forces.
 So in order to create space for more toys that I will actually use (more ECW cavalry for a start- see the post on Winceby Fight) then stuff I don't use will have to be moved on.
 Now I mentioned this on my Facebook page and a couple of chaps said- via messenger- how sad it was that I was selling stuff- well Hey Dude its my Job!  (Though that is not quite what they meant) Also in the next sentence one of 'em then tried to sell ME some of HIS that he no longer required ... Still trying to work that one out ...

 So currently the 40mm ACW and 40mm Napoleonics are up for Sale - though I do have to actually count all the Napoleonics to arrive at a price the numbers are similar to the ACW- though with more mounted figures and including a Spanish Ox drawn gun and limber .  I also have a smaller collection of 40mm Dark Ages- mostly Vikings with some Normans which look more than likely to be added to the mix. All are painted to a pretty high standard and some have appeared in the pages of WI- some years back and more recently MW. The ACW collection includes buildings and fences- 2 of the building being hand built by me. As it says on the Facebook page offers in the region of £1600.00 for

Confederate 93 foot 4 mounted Officers 1 gun 6 crew 6 casualty markers- stiffs  total 110 pieces
 Infantry in 3 units
104  infantry in  sort  of 6 units of which 3 are less than a dozen men each including a 10 fig Drabant unit and 6 Berdan’s sharpshooters . Otherwise all figures in both forces are Sash and Saber.
4 mounted officers 1 gun 6 crew 6 stiffs total 121 pieces

1 clapboard house 1 barn – both scratch built by me and 1 resin cabin  from Sash and Saber and around 5 feet of Sash and Saber fencing.
 All in 40mm .
Interested chaps can contact me via messenger on Facebook or by email on 

 One of the slight downsides of running a toy soldier business is that you do end up with a number of ex-display units and small forces- not really large enough for armies on their own so for instance I have about 30 or so 40mm Zulu War British and Zulus  A fair bundle of 28mm  French in Egypt including some Corps Dromedaire- as well as about 50 assorted Mamelukes and Cairo Janissaries- all well painted and all in 28mm  I also have about 20 or so painted Pirates- never going to use them as the period does not interest me. There are doubtless other odd units here and there. I'm sure I have 3 WW2 Japanese tanks somewhere and a load of 10mm Saracens for the crusades. Oh and a 10mm Swiss pike block  most of these are on here somewhere or on the OGUK website and the likelehood of 'em ever being used is pretty small .
 All these in addition to the "official company collection" which you see in the display case at shows. 
 What is a chap to do ?
Answes on a neatly folded £50.00 note ..... 

Tuesday 17 April 2018

One of these things is not like the others...

Now I have not reviewed any magazines for a good while. There have been a couple of reasons for this Most notably that I have been simply too busy. so no reading of magazines and precious little figure painting as well.
 However on those rare occasions when I have thumbed through a mag  it has left me decidedly underwhelmed. WI still shouts at you when it isn't patronising you but doesn't tell you much. WSS is better but somehow unsatisfying- though with good bits - like a well prepared but insufficient meal and MW is simply variable from the very good to the  not so good  with the wasted pages of the club directory to boot.  Of course MW is now fantasy and sci-fi heavy but then so is WI and we are all set to drown in a sea of sci-Fant skirmish a likes which may have different pretty boxes and even different models and especially different "mechanisms" - but are all the same narrow approach to the same narrow problem "How to get the suckers to buy MY silly skirmish game - this time with mice and badgers " Yes chaps it has come to this (again) see the review in  the latest MW of   "Burrows and Badger"- Gawd 'elp us how low can you get .... Hedgehogs apparently and armoured mice so  we should all regress to petulant 6 year olds on a 4 foot square table and fiddle with our badgers ....  Now don't get me wrong I've seen some cute little models beautifully painted but to actually spend a ton or more on collecting 2 sides for  such a limited idea. Even the Editor with his Fantasy bent  gulps somewhat at this one. Me - well  the mainstream is now a childrens paddling pool and I'm well out of it,
 However overall the mag was well above average despite too much Fantasy there were still 4 whole articles in it worth reading
 Conrad Kinch's "Send 3 and fourpence is usually a good read and this one was better than most- examining  motivations  and although Iam not keen on  his terminology  by Mr Kinch's lights I am a day- tripper (but also a Craftsman) and happy thus.
 The title of this post is lifted from a short but interesting piece by Robert Piepenbrink in which he argues that Fantasy and Historical wargaming are simply not the same. Something I have argued for many a long year. Now while I agree with most of his points I feel that he simply does not go far enough as regards the research and actual knowledge element- which is totally missing from many  of the current run of fluffy sci-fant skirmish -a-likes (though more apparent in a  "home grown"set up based around a particular sub-genre). To be a rounded historical wargamer you actually need to know things that are NOT contained in the  rulebook for the latest episode of Steptoe in Space or whatever 4 foot fantasy dice rolling contest for overage adolescents is in fashion at this weeks "game night". If as Mr Piepenbrink avers the gaming hobby is going that way then I'm out of here and will take up something more intellectually stimulating such as  watching paint dry.
 Jon Sutherland's piece on Villiers -Bocage is worth study - I have not yet  used Command Decision 4 - though I have a copy  but am a fan of CD in general as it treats you like and adult as does Jon's article which is of course a scenario for the famous actions there in June 1944.
Oh and Diane Sutherland piece on making marshes and similar boggy terrain is pretty good too.
 The final part of Jim Webster's Hell by Daylight - modern skirmish rules is also in the mag. Somewhere I have an original copy of these in tiny A5 format. This current incarnation is much easier to read !  There are a couple of other pieces - other than the useful reviews- but one - on setting up a web forum is basically an advert for Peter Pig - so after the pointless  trudge though the mire of AK-47 I can do without that ! The other  is a second part of an article upon the Apache wars of the US South west. Perhaps rather good but frankly I was put off by the overblown photographs of Foundry Cowboys - which didn't seem to have a lot to do with the subject but dominated the pages ... Hmmm not sure about that one.
 Mind you still a better magezine than those I have largly ignored after a brief flick though ,

Saturday 7 April 2018

This time next week the mayhem begins

Well this time next week the doors at Salute will be opening and the mayhem commencing. of course we will be there will a ton of soldiers from around half a dozen different makers
 to whit
 Old Glory., Blue Moon ,Sash and Saber, Drabant, True North, Raven Banner Games and my own Fireforce Miniatures.
I still have a major interest in the ECW. Always will have. 

 Now due to space restrictions I don't think I'll have room for the Aircraft this year- they have been pushed out by the New Blue Moon Italian Wars range but if there is space I'll take them. Nevertheless that is an awful lot of stuff in different styles and scales by different makers and designers. Variety is the spice of life- at least I have always thought so.
Individually made conversion on 40mm models- I'm keeping these. 

Models or Dice Rolling?

Despite this units appearence on the cover of Miniature Wargames some years ago it may be time to move these and the rest of the 40mm Napoleonic collection on. 

 I do like different style and types of models in my armies. I'm really not a fan of homogeneous blandness at all . The models are the thing- that is what you put the money and effort into what happens to them afterwards is a different matter. Most will get used on the table - but I have some units in my collections that have not fought for years and indeed may get moved on to be replaced by other units that may- or indeed may not  see dice rolled in anger.. It is a bit like a conveyor belt- New stuff comes on at one end whilst other stuff moves out at the other as interests change and develop. Some things stay constant- such as my interest in the ECW . BUT my interest in the ACW has waned somewhat as has the Dark Ages. Also focus changes over the years as ideas new to you appear. Hence the "shinyloo" collection which did not exist 10 years ago so maybe it is time to move the 40mm Napoleonic collection on. Certainly I'm thinking about it. Likewise the 40mm Dark Ages collection - one of the smaller groups which I enjoyed making but they have never- so far fought.
 Bit of a shame reallv but there you go.
The 40mm British Napoleonic  which oppose the French.
At least the 40mm Napoleonics have had a couple of outings and the 40mm ACW several more but as scope and focus changes then so does the emphasis of my various collections.

Monday 2 April 2018

Winceby Fight- refought

For our March Game I was in the chair and decided to run and ECW re-fight. I chose the cavalry fight of Winceby for several reasons
 1/. It is small enough to game in a single meeting.
2/. It is a cavalry  fight. Something that happened an awful lot in the ECW but such battles are not gamed that often. This seems to be largely because Joe Wargamer "hates painting horses" - though my sample is not scientific if I had a quid for every time I'd heard that I would not need to sell soldiers for a living. Personally I don't get it .  With the possible exception of medieval housed horses that need heraldry,h orses are easier than the riders so I've never understood what all the anti-cavalry fuss is about.
 In order to re-fight Winceby I needed almost all the ECW cavalry I own - without including the 30 or so Cuirassiers or 20 mounted Dragooners. This even though the battle had  less than 4000 combatants in total ended up being 200 plus mounted figures plus a mere 30 dismounted dragoons (I do not consider that my ECW forces have anything like enough Horse. I need to almost double it).
 For the game forces were almost even with each side haveing around 100 cavalry . The Royalists having a tiny numerical edge with 20 dragoons  in 2 units as against the single 10 man roundhead unit.
The table at the beginning of the game. Royalists at the top of the picture. Rounhead first line under Cromwell in the foregground. Roundhead second line on the bottom edge. 

The Royalists had 3 commands as against the Roundheads 2  but since the Roundheads in question were Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell the the Royalist had a job on.. With 5 players plus myself as Umpire the stage was set for an interesting afternoons game based firmly on the historical precedent. Terrain was of the simplist being merely 2 low ridges- actually wooden blocks beneath the cloth and a few hedges on the roundhead right- which should have been on the left !!! Not that it made any difference.
 Our groups decided some time ago that although we have terrain boards for our public demos for these pub games simplicity and portability are more often the norm.
 Rules used were Forlorn Hope- still the best ECW set I have found despite the very pretty  but possibly a bit generic Pike and Shotte  (though I have not yet seen the new ECW supplement) and the rather odd but not uninteresting "To defy a King". Such lightweight fluff as Pikemans Lament need not detain our thought processes. So Forlorn Hope it would be.
Royalist Horse advance slowly .

The Royalists got off to a bright start advancing their dragoons and sorting out the roundhead dragoons in the hedges in pretty short order. The Parliamentarians advanced their whole first line under Cromwell cautiously in response. Instead of following up their initial success the Cavaliers stood and waited for a couple of turns .... So did the Roundheads - although the Cavaliers did extend their second line to to their right a little in an effort to stop the possibility of a Parliamentarian outflanking move in that direction.
 At last after an awful lot of fiddling about both sides front lines clashed. The charges all being initiated by the Cavaliers. The ensuing melee was long and - to begin with- largely bloodless owing to the huge number of totally bum dice thrown by both sides indeed at one point the Umpire waxed somewhat Churchillian
 "Never in the field of tabletop conflict have so many bum dice been thrown so many times by so few"
Another view of the Cavaliers

 Eventually the Cavaliers routed one of Cromwell squadrons but in turn their centre was routed and other squadrons pushed back. Now appeared a spectre. In the hope of a quick victory the Cavaliers had pushed part of their reserve- including its commander into the front line. This error had consequences. In the melee Saville could not leave his troops to summon up his reserves so they simply stood about without orders while on the other flank Fairfax - after a couple of false starts- bum dice again- was set fair to  cross the hedge and outflank the hard pressed Cavaliers. So it was all over bar the shouting. The Cavaliers conceding the game at this point.
Cromwells division moves forward. 

 Figure were all from my ECW collections being about 60% Old Glory 25mm and the rest Hincliffe from my shiny retro collection . As always our thanks go to Landlady Jean for excellent Beef Butties and chips and sundry pints of Consett Brewey's White Hot- an excellent session beer. Though  it was rumoured that some of the Cavaliers were seen imbibing of  strange  bottle beverage called "cider"   no wonder they lost .

The melee gets a bit intense. Cromwell getting stuck in. 

All over bar the shouting. The Cavaliers conced at this point as their Flank will be turned. 
Roll on the next game in late April- currently looking like WW2 in the desert using "Operation Warboard.