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Tuesday 19 December 2023

Here we go again another Crimbo......

 Well it is THAT time of year yet again- does not seem that long since the last one  really. Yes it is  Christmas. A time for overindulgence and frivolity. Well  for some anyway . I get the impression that plenty will have a pretty thin time this year. The exception as always being our 'glorious government' and its odious cronies.

 A Christmas booze-up in 1461 gets out of hand !
 Actually a picture of some of my 40mm Wars of the Roses collection. This pic is of some age - it once appeared as a front cover for Miniature Wargames magazine. 

Speaking for myself  I rarely push the boat out simply because Carole and I want a few days off to recharge after 50 weeks of work. Perhaps the odd glass or two a mince pie perhaps, but no bloody turkey - I hate the stuff.

I shall not be completely idle as I am now working on another book  and as always I have plenty of soldiers to paint. Currently th painting desk has a few additions to 'shinyloo', some Pathan tribesmen and a couple of  Landrovers on it to add to various ongoing projects, so we shall see what we actually get done over the holidays.

So Gentle Readers as the Festive Season approaches Carole and I wish you all good cheer. Merry Christmas to one and all and here's hoping for a brighter and better NEW YEAR. .

Andy and Carole. 

Thursday 7 December 2023

Last Posting Date Before Christmas.

 OLD GLORY UK's last posting date before Christmas will be WEDNESDAY December 20th.

 This of course does not mean that orders received on the 20th will automatically go out on the same day. Orders have to be pulled, processed and packed, so it will depend how much of a queue there is.

All of our deliveries go  via Royal Mail or Parcelforce through our local Post Office. (Well done that Postmistress and here excellent crew). Items are sent First Class with tracking and signature where appropriate.

Normal service will resume in the NEW Year on or about January 4th 2024.

Orders will be taken over the holiday period- the website will be active- but no posting will take place until  early January as nothing really can go anywhere until the holidays are over. 

Carole and I are having a few days off during which  we won't have to think about metal men or sticky tape!

Monday 4 December 2023

A Game of Soldiers !

 November 25th saw four members of the Tantobie Warfare And Tactical Society attend Battleground  in Stockton with an Anglo Sikh Wars demo game.

General view of the 8 feet by 6 feet playing area. Sikh forces on the left. guns closest to the camera.

 Now James 'not-very' Cleverly notwithstanding we found the venue very good and a good day was had by all. I was going to do a battle report of  our game  but such was the interest from the ' customers' or attendees of the show that we only played out 5 moves all day in between  discussions on the period and model availability- even signing a few copies of the new  guide to wargaming the period of which Gentle readers of this blog will doubtless have hear. Especially as I have been banging on about it for the past few months ! 

I did mange to take a few pictures of the game which will give a flavour of what happened. Also bear in mind the the IIC(thats Idiot in Charge)- forgot the box containing most of the British cavalry.. Even without these 30  missing models the British disposed of 7 infantry battalions and 3 guns. The Sikh had 5 guns- all heavier than anything the British had 5 regular battalions. One of Nujibs and a bundle of irregular infantry- including a unit of Akalis who, in the event, never got into the action. The Sikh cavalry consisted of around 40 assorted Ghoracharra and a single unit of regular dragoons

  The game opened with the 4 gun Sikh battery on their extreme right   blowing big holes in the Bengal Native infantry unit opposite them. As usual the Sikh guns were the mainstay of their forces. The casualties caused on that particular brigade caused it to veer off to their right to avoid more carnage. One of the battalions even retiring in some disorder after getting a particularly severe spanking from those terrible guns.

The Sikh guns which caused all the trouble to the British left. 

 Over on the other British flank Sikh irregulars advanced into the scrub- jungle but didn't much like the British artillery once it found them as a couple of rounds and off went the surviving irregulars

 Rules were modified 'Warfare in the Age of Reason' and while they do work there were a few points I was less than happy with so I  next time I shall try  General De Brigade- again with the amendments that are in the aforementioned book. If I can ever puzzle them out I will also try Black Powder 2nd Ed. but since I lose the will to live reading them this may take some time. No I don't have either the time or inclination to watch some U-tube vids on 'How to' either. On the whole I'd rather watch paint dry- it's quicker..

The British left and centre before the carnage.

 Waspish jests apart  the real reason is simply because I don't play enough games in any single period to become a  single set rules slave.  I can't honestly say that ANY set of rules in over 50 years of wargaming has ever had that effect on me. Mind you plenty of sets have had the opposite effect, a sort of ' Oh no here we go again more turgid twaddle'. Though in truth most are in the middle ground - 'Well they might be useful...... possibly .... one day. 

The Sikh  regulars begin a cautious advance. 

The British await the assault. In the event it never happened. 
Sikh  Cavalry and skirmishers hovering around a selection of 'jungly bits' 

The British right. A squadron of Bengal Irregular Cavalry on the extreme right.

They did manage to turn up! 

As for the show it was a good day out well run and pretty well attended. and  the group and I will be going back. 

Friday 17 November 2023

Khalsa ! A Guide to Wargaming the Anglo Sikh Wars.

It's Out!  

So here is my second book and my first in the Helion Wargames series.

It was  both fun and challenging to write. To be honest I found the 'wargaming' bits sometimes more of a challenge then the 'history' bits but it all seems to have come out right in the end.. I have not yet seen a print copy  but the final proof looked pretty dammed good in my very biased opinion.
 Interested chaps can  buy a copy here. 

on the Helion website at an introductory offer price.
 Also Helion will be at Battleground Wargames show in Stockton - on- Tees on Saturday 25th November - as indeed will I .
 My gaming group and I will be running a Sikh Wars game in 28mm based around one of the scenarios in the book.
 See your there perhaps. ?

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Corvus Miniatures - A Brief and possibly inaccurate history.

 Corvus Miniatures were a British wargames figure company that flourished  briefly in the 1980s before disappearing without trace sometime after 1987 .

 They produced a quite extensive range of 25mm figures that today would be called 28mm being around the same size as Foundry.

 The began production in 1983 but the first advert I can find from them is in Miniature Wargames no 12 

 Corvus advert from no 12 of MW showing 'New Releases'.

The company steadily added new items to its listings.  Including a Dark Ages range - which I had completely forgotten about - even though I'm sure I had some of the Normans and maybe some ofthe Welsh.

Another advert- this one from MW13

For me the best of their ranges was the ECW- much of it based on the the then very new Haythornthwaite book published I think by Blandford, which I may still have somewhere. The range would in time become quite extensive. 

The advert in MW14 announcing the ECW range. 

The next advert in MW15 shows more releases in different periods The company certainly had some ambition. My own view was that I almost always liked the figures I bought from them and found them of pretty high quality and detail.

Another ad from MW15 though they missed off the company name ! 

 Though as others noted the horses tended to be on the small side. 
MW18 had almost a page and a half of figure reviews from Corvus- these are the days before the internet- we used to actually read stuff back then! 

The 2 pages of the review. I note that while Corvus has sunk without trace Trev Dixon is still  going strong ! 

This review - also from MW this time no 21 gives a look at the models themselves. I  have a couple of the officer with half pike and 10 of the loading musketeer. plus a few Pikemen - all picked up a couple of years ago second hand. 

Some of the Corvus Normans. 

Another review  this time from MW27  August 1985- a bundle of ECW personalities- which I never got around to buying. 

 December 1985 issue of MW has an advert for the 1986 'Corvus Miniatures  World Team Championships run by the Derby Wargames Associates- with whom I and Old Glory UK would be happily involved sponsoring the World Team Championships  during the mid 1990s and on past the millennium

 Corvus' next advert in MW  that I have been able to find is May 1986 and the company has moved to a new address but is still making new ranges.

 The final mention of the company that I have so far found is from later in 1986 and shows their Franco- Prussian War range. This is a photo- review though the quality is no wonderful 

Corvus Franco- Prussian War.  I seem to recall seeing some of these at a Durham Wargames Group meeting. I was a member back then! 

The above is the last mention I have so far found. It might be telling that the address given in the review is for a shop 'The Parade Ground' in Sussex. I have a dim recollection that Corvus may have become 'Sussex Miniatures' but have not so far found any documentary evidence to support this.. The above review appears in MW39 August 1986 . I have found no more mentions of the company in MW though I do have some early issues of WI to check through. and have so far found that Corvus seem to have been taken over by 
 The Parade Gound, WI no1 has an advert for the Osprey World Championships 1987 which had 'The Parade Ground (Including Corvus and Tin Soldier) listed as attending the show.  More info if and when I discover any. 

November 8th 2023.
 An addendum.
 In  WI no 2  October 1987. an advert for Sussex miniatures appears 'formerly the Parade Ground'   stating that they now manufacture the Corvus range under the trade name of Sussex Miniatures.  Now all I have to do is find what happened to Sussex Miniatures. The same Company also manufactured the Tin Soldier range so I wonder how long that connection lasted and if the current 'Tin Solder' range are the same. 

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Khalsa- a Guide to Wargaming the Anglo- Sikh Wars.

 Well here is the cover of our - that is mine and Jim's -  book on wargaming the Sikh Wars due out next month. 

So here Gentle readers is some actual evidence ! 

On the Helion Website here  

Saturday 14 October 2023

It has been a while !

 Sometimes you  simply have to let something slide. there simply are not enough hours in the working day.

Last weekend was Partizan which meant  getting the van from the hirer , loading up said van then getting up at half past bloody early for the drive to Newark. Doing the show - which was pretty busy- loading up and driving back. Unloading then getting the van back to the hirer on the Monday morning. Does not leave a lot of time for much else over three days. This time was made a bit more frantic as for the previous two days I was also unpacking a shipment from the USA and pulling a bundle of back- orders to make sure I didn't sell 'em at the show Then of course you have all the catching up to do when you get back. mostly done now but still some back orders to go out next week. Phew!

 Previous to that I was busy putting the finishing touches to my soon to be published (I'm told November so in time for Crimbo dudes!) book 'Khalsa - A Guide to Wargaming the Anglo- Sikh Wars'. Helion being the publisher in their Helion Wargames series.

Sikh Ghorcharra. The mainstay of the Sikh cavalry. No Sikh army can have too many of these chaps  so there are always some on my painting table.

 Almost 70.000 words plus a bundle of photos of mine and Colin Ashton's Sikh Wars collections in action. Add to that the Uniform and organisational guides and  several scenarios and 'scenario sketches'  and I'm pretty pleased with it Not for a moment forgetting the figure painting chapter by my good friend James Main which adds  considerably to the book. Now all I'm waiting for is to see it in print.

 Oh and yes there is a fair bit of narrative history in there as well..

The Sirmoor Local Battalion- a Ghurkha unit. This unit fought in the First Sikh War at Aliwal and Sobraon.. Despite the 'rifles' style uniform they did carry colours .

I'm told I'll have copies in time for Battleground show on November 26th - at which event Helion  are listed as a trader so we shall see.

 Our gaming group are doing a Sikh Wars demo game so in my few and far between spare moments I am painting Sikh Wars figures to add to my still growing collection. Oh and maybe a bit of the World Cup.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Bitsa this and Bitsa that.

 Over the last few weeks I have been trying to  progress on three different projects. Now those of you who don't get bored when organising their socks in colour and numerical order may thing this a little odd. Well maybe it is but single minded concentration on 1 wargaming project to the exclusion of all others would simply bore me witless and the quality would therefore suffer.

 So Gentle Reader  my painting table always has more than one lot of partly painted figures on it. 

 Currently the projects in hand are- 

 1/. Anglo -Sikh Wars. This is progressing nicely. I now have forces for both sides that are bigger than the game shown in the Sikh and Ye Shall Find post a few months back. Currently working on the 1st Bengal European Light Infantry. This is the most pressing of the projects as I need to add sufficient to the two armies for a demo game at The  Battle Ground Wargames show in late November - by which time my book on wargaming  the Anglo- Sikh wars should be imminent if not actually published. Once 1 BELI are done then it is on to 2nd Bengal Native Infantry Grenadiers. Assorted Sikh Irregulars will fill in any gaps on the painting table.

Bengal or Bombay  Field battery- with a 9 pdr. In front 
of a British camp. Bengal Native Infantry in the background.

The same Foot battery with the first of the  First Bengal European Light Infantry.
 More of these on the painting table.
Old Glory  28mm figures . Gun by Eagle Figures

2/. Shinyloo!.  I always have a few  retro style models on the table as a sort of light relief. Most recently finished are some French Foot artillery and a few French Dragoons. Both arrived here in a 'sort of painted' state so didn't need everything doing to them hence they were quite quick to finish and add to the growing collection of old shiny dudes. 

Recently added shiny dudes.
 Hinchliffe 30mm French Foot Artillery.
Connoisseur French Dragoons.

3/. 40mm Thirty Year War.  This project has languished for quite a while. Mostly because I simply could not decide which way I wanted to go with it. However two excellent books  recently published by Helion have helped me on the way. So French and Imperialists it shall be, with perhaps a slight accent towards the Spanish of the 1640s-50s.  But then again I might change my mind .... 

40mm TYW
 incongruously appearing in the Punjab!
Models on their sabots are a mixture of my own Romanoff Miniatures some ex-Jacdaw 
 and some with Sash and Saber heads

After reading a line in the recent Helion book on
Rocroi where a Spanish commander takes up a buckler
 I rather thought I'd make such a figure from various Romanoff parts. 
The result is the chap in the middle. 

 The 18 Musketeers no 2 exactly alike . Rebased on round 25mm diameter bases.

Units will be largish so not too many actual units on the table - accent will be on 'minor tactics' and  battalion command, at least that is currently the plan. Rules will be somewhat retro as many modern rules simply 'abstract out'  many of the interesting bits of 17th century warfare in favour of game simplicity for the hard of thinking but the role of a colonel or captain was very different from that of a general and rules should reflect this- you can't refight Lutzen using Pikeman's Lament-  and it is not meant for such  but I'll not use them for this project as they have many other historical and organisational problems despite being supposedly set at the command level I am looking for.. I have found a Featherstone set which may do the deed if I can graft on some command rules.  We shall see. 

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Catching up on my Reading 19 . A Blast from the Past.

  Donald Featherstone's Lost Tales .Edited by John Curry.

I've had this volume for a while and never thought of reviewing it until recently. However as a book by one of the 'originators'  of the wargaming hobby as it stands today it deserves a second and even a third look. Regular readers will know that I have a soft spot for 'retro' wargaming, often preferring it to some of the gamesey  history free twaddle that masquerades as 'historical wargaming' in this 'modern era'. Now that is not the same as saying that ALL modern 'games' are tripe  - they are not-  but like the curates egg- the modern era of historical wargaming is only good in parts.

In some ways it is a strange book, combining as it does real history and wargaming.

 The real history consists of Featherstone's 'War Memoirs' and a short history of the Army Tank battalion he served with . This last has  several gameable scenarios   within its narrative as well as the rather unusual organisational quirks of 51st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment with its mixture of Sherman  and Churchill tanks while in Italy. There is also an essay on 'The Birth of Modern Wargaming'  which should set the record straight concerning how what we have today began in the late 50s /early 60s which 'Millenial wargamers' should read . The picture of wargamers of yesteryear in Jackets and ties will raise a smile or three! 

As for the 'Wargaming' bit well the main body of the book is a block of Featherstone rules actually a total of  12 sets by either Featherstone himself or Tony Bath covering most of the popular and a couple of more obscure periods. Some a very simple, even simplistic, and many are also rather skeletal in terms of the actual amount of rules given. These are not 'games' in the sense many expect today. They assume some pre-knowledge of period and some suspension of belief- especially with regard to Command and Control and  formations This does not mean they are useless. A decent Umpire can use their vey simplicity and skeletal nature as a toolrack to hang his scenarios upon adding scenario specific rules as required. Games using these rules will be fast and bloody- especially in the Horse and musket era. There are no set unit sizes here  although there are some suggestions.

 Arthur Harman's useful  introduction to the rules section of the book points out many of the possible pitfalls and inconsistencies and his point about the suitability of these rules for small actions is well made and to the point and the lack of period detail is also mentioned. However I would opine that such lack may at times be advantageous to the well read Umpire, and as a fan of 'Active Umpiring' the very simplicity has its uses.

 To be honest it is unlikely that I'd  umpire a game using these rules without some amendments more than once or twice ,as usual I treat rules as a toolbox and feel free to amend as alter as needed in much the same way  Donald Featherstone  advocated.

So  yes I recommend this book to chaps who have an interest in the development of our hobby. Don was after all one of the pioneers.

Friday 4 August 2023

Catching up on my Reading 18. The Battle of Lutzen A Reassessment by Andre Schurger

This latest volume by Published by Helion in the Century of the Soldier series (It is no 104) landed on my mat almost a month ago and has taken some reading. This is not a bad thing as it is well worth the time actual study takes.

 The Battle of Lutzen in the Thirty Years War is mostly famous  for the untimely death of King Gustav Adolf II of Sweden in the heat of the action and the confusion of battle, at which point apparently hearing of their Kings death  by magical means the Swedes  went battle mad and promptly polished off the Imperialists in short order.
 Needless to say the reality was a lot more complex that that which this fine book goes on to explain. 

 Indeed it is so stuffed with useful information that it is actually overflowing, as another 80 PAGES are available as a download from the Helion website, which will give the careful reader even more useful and fascinating information.. This section contains another 48 assorted maps and charts of  archaeological finds and bullet distribution. Maps of pre-battle movement and a clutch of battle maps showing  formation movements down to brigade and sometimes even regimental level.

 So what  do you actually get in the paper format?
Physically the book is in the usual Helion style and has 241 pages  with 17 pages of colour plates of troop types and colours plus two colour maps of army deployment.
The eight chapters cover all you might expect in a 'Battle ' book  such as the campaign including the difficulties of supplying seventeenth century armies and the two armies  orders of battle and deployments but also a whole lot more.

 For a start there is a serious examination of  both primary and secondary sources and their respective values (or lack of such) Then an equally serious examination of the archaeology, much of which the author was himself involved in so he knows whereof he speaks.

With the help of the downloadable maps- these give extra details- the reader is taken through the battle  blow by blow in deep and almost exhaustive detail. From the initial manoeuvres through to the Kings death and Pappenhiem's arrival to the exhaustion of both armies and the final Swedish attacks it is all here for the reader to study.

 One of the things that surprised me was how comparatively small the battle was.  The total troop numbers for both armies  only just topped 30,000 men. Somehow I had the erroneous impression that the two armies were much larger.

There are , as you would expect,  more than a few translated chunks of contemporary accounts and the author uses these to illustrate his points well. 

Now I not going to launch any spoilers here, regular readers will know that is not my style, you will have to buy the book and download the extra info to get a full picture of what is there . Anyone wit any kind of interest in 17th century warfare should have this volume on his shelves.   

 My only niggle - and it is a very very minor one, is the authors use of military terminology - in particular the word 'squadron'- which for most of us is a sub unit of a cavalry regiment often in the 17th century  composed of two 'troops' or 'companies' of horse usually, though not always, from the same regiment.
 Here the term  is used as a catch all for anything from a  battalion of 1,000 or so Imperial infantry (some of the eight of these units were made up of more than one regiment) through the usual cavalry term to any detached unit of  'commanded' musketeers. I found this a tad confusing until I worked it out and once you realise this it does not detract from the book in the slightest.

So yes I  commend  this book to any Pike and Shot fans wargamers or not, but more than that, this is a book  worth serious study to any student of 17th century military history. 

 Highly Recommended

Monday 31 July 2023

After an Almost Four Year Gap .....

 Yes Gentle readers , after almost four years in their boxes the 15mm Moderns collections gets a short run out.

British Challenger tanks with added stowage. 15mm Old Glory models. Painted by me.

 The Tantobie Warfare and Tactical Society met last Saturday in our newish venue for the July game.

 Andrew the Tekkie was in the chair and decided on a Moderns game using my 15mm Brits and 'Harrquis'- which are not at all for the Gulf Wars (!) Rules were a new set to us- Cold War Commander-  second Edition.

 To be honest I was a bit sceptical as Cold War Commander had filled me with ire and tedium when we tried it and I suspected the same here. But no there were much better. A full game report will appear in due course on Andrew's Blog Tantobie Internet Tattle so suffice it to say that I rather liked these- a bit dice heavy and slow until you get  to know them- the IGOUGO system slows things down as always- but they do have something so they are not to be consigned straight to the bin like the first edition.

 I can defintely see these being used again.

Warrior IFV's some with WRAP extra armour infantry behind- in game terms actuall in the vehicles of course.  Old Glory Models again painted by me. 

Pictures are all from my own collection. Most of the models both Vehicles and infantry are from the Old Glory Command Decision Moderns range.

The only game shot I took. British recon bugs out as the enemy appear while the Challengers move up to engage. T-72s and BMP s Again all Old Glory Models in 15mm  from my own collection.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

'Old School' , 'Retro' and 'Modern' .

 So which is which and why?- and do we really care?

 First question. Is there really any difference between the three.?

 Honestly no not really, but well, yes sort of possibly.

 First, speaking personally, I simply prefer the term 'retro'  for a certain style of wargaming to the term 'old school' because for me 'old school' has certain connotations. First I hated the bloody place and was glad when - many years later- I found out that some bright fella had run a bull dozer through it immediately making that part of Greater Manchester a better place. Secondly because a chap once told me that 'old school'  wargaming remined him too much of cardigans, Ralgex and Werthers originals. I won't say he was wrong. 

 Definitely both 'old school' and 'retro'. ECW guns one part of Peter Gilders collection. They were called 25mm when they were made

So, for me the two terms 'old school' and 'retro' wargaming are rather similar though it depends - as always- on your individual view.

 Now I began wargaming at the aforementioned Grammar School in 1970 which was a while back and definitely 'old school' by today's standards. Armies were mostly Airfix with a few very precious Les Higgins, then a little later Hinchliffe. Rules were Featherstone or Wise, then London Wargames section Napoleonics. or awful home written concoctions. I recall writing rules  for the Indian Mutiny. They must have been awful since we had bugger all knowledge about how mid 19th century battles were conducted and not much more knowledge about how the armies were organised. or looked.(So a bit like some modern 'game designers' then!) 

Modern Old Glory 28mm Napoleonic painted by James Main for a client who wanted them in a 'retro' style. 

 By 1974 or thereabouts I had joined the Manchester  Area Wargames Society whose members were actually adults and owned wholly metal armies. Rules were still often homegrown but WRG had made its appearance and compared to the school club stuff was complicated but there were more periods- I saw my first ECW game at one of the meetings. 

 Once I moved up to the North-East, despite a brief dalliance with the rules published by Derek Sharman- which used a 'spinner'  rather than dice for the 'random factor' then for the next few years it was mostly WRG all the way Ancients and Pike and Shot. 

 Old Glory 28mm AWI 'Modern' style? 

All of this is in many eyes 'old school' - but when you try to find out what MAKES it 'old school'  the answers all  differ depending upon the age of and time in the hobby of, the person being asked. Often 'old school' seems to mean' what happened before I joined in'  or 'different from what I do now '  or even 'not as much fun cos you had to know stuff '. 'old school 'perhaps but it is 'retro' ?

Indian Mutiny - mutineers Old Glory 28mm organised for Young and Lawford's 'Charge - or How to play Wargames' a 1960s rule set which I still find useful for smaller battles. 

For myself I tend to use the term 'retro' more for the look of the table and the  figure collection than for any other reason. Yes rules come into it somewhat but I can set up a retro looking game and use 'modern' rules- though I'm not sure why I would do this as many 'modern' rules are overly wordy- sometimes close to 'barkerese' that I can't be bothered to  spend the time puzzling them out or sorting out the useful bits in the overly pretty eye candy filled book. No always true but of modern style rules I have bought in the last 3 or 4 years only 'In Deo Veritas'  for large Pike and Shot battles in smaller scales  has made sense in less than  4 or 5 readings- but I don't really want to go into 10mm- though I will keep bending Jim's ear in that direction ! (He already has a bundle of 10mm SYW) 

Some of my deliberately 'retro' 30mm collection with  some of the plastic trees.

Mind you I HATE reading rules. The often arcane language is very off putting 'roll 97 22 sided dice in  alternate non -sequence while standing on one leg with a haddock in the left hand - then mark down one or possibly 2 casualty points but no more, then roll the 18 sided dice 13 times to decide your first unit's movement'  - yes I exaggerate rather more than somewhat-  but many modern rules do seem very dice heavy, seemingly replacing thought and decision making by dice rolling. If I wanted to plat a dice based game I'd play snakes and ladders. 

Ok , after that digression, back to the plot. The easiest way to spot what might be a retro game is the look- gloss varnish on the models is a good start and then possibly the make of models-  Minifigs possibly or Garrison or Hinchliffe or  Stadden or Hinton Hunt or Les Higgins or Lamming  or possibly even more obscure makes such as Corvus or  Vulcan.  

It is also not difficult to mix the styles. My Indian Mutiny collection  are all modern figures painted in a 'modern' style with matt varnishing are singly based and will be used for a 'Charge! variant- said rules by Young and Lawford being definitely 'old schll'  since they were published for the first time in the late 1960s but I can also use them for such modern sets as 'The Men Who would be Kings'  assuming I can get those rules to fit the Mutiny without destroying any period feel.

Does the owner of said, old lead dudes refer to them as 25mm rather than the  'cool' 28mm which is so old it dates from as long ago as the the mid 1990s. For the record two of my own retro projects are in 30mm - just to confuse the issue..

 I've also been told that 'old school' rules are more complicated 'all those tables and stuff' or indeed that they are very simple- by which they usually mean over simple really, once again old school seems to mean 'what I don't want' or even 'what I like' depending upon who you speak to.

 One thing might be close to a constant 'old school' types are often more likely to question the rules and bin them if their own knowledge tells them said rules are garbage. On that score I am definitely 'old school' . Slavish obedience to 'da rools '  at the expense of the history is for fantasy dudes and games slaves, not open minds. Mind you there was a lot of that kind of stuff back in the day so maybe that is old school too! 

Now my collection of plastic trees are definitely old school- they take pride of place in my retro games and sometimes turn up in the 'modern' style too. For a start they don't scatter flock everywhere like the bog brush trees you often see. But I'm glad I bought most of them in the 1970s as they tend to work out at around 20 quid each for the larger specimens on ebay these days. 

It also seems that in ye olden days- depending on how far back that actually is- units were often larger- see Grants 5 officers and 48 man infantry units wheras today a 24 figure unit is not infrequently touted as 'standard'  but then so is '4 bases'  in rules where the models are often no more than counter decoration- but then even that is in some eyes 'old school' - Phil Barker opined almost exactly that is several of his rule sets back in the 1970s.

 So my point really is- beyond the look of the thing- is there really any such thing as 'old school' or is it really merely 'doing it my way' rather than merely being a consumer of the latest gaming fad. 

For myself I will always prefer 'historical period' to 'gaming fad'.

 So even the way I buy into any new (for me) period might be 'old school'  it usually goes ' That's interesting'- himm what models are available- how do I want to present them on the table?-  ok what rules can I use?- Which ones are any good, and will I lose the will to live trying to read the bloody things (reading rules can kill my interest in a period faster than any other single thing). Rule are always at the bottom of the thought chain I have often bought and even painted the armies before I have thought about rules.

I suppose that  makes me old school' then ... or does it?


Friday 30 June 2023

Catching Up On My Reading 17.

 Dragoons and Dragoon Operations in the British Civil Wars  1638-1653. by Andrew Abram.

 Helion- Century of the Soldier series no 99.. Softback 334pp.

It has bee a while since I have done a book review on this blog- mostly because I have been writing rather than reading but I picked this one up at the Partizan show in May and have finally got around to reading it.

Another big chunk of a tome from Mr Abram  and a pretty dammed good chunk it is.

 There are twelve chapters which take the reader through all they might need to know about dragoons during the Civil Wars. in England and Wales- Scotland being only mentioned insofar as Scottish troops in England are concerned. These mounted infantry were a vital tool in fighting the campaigns of the mid- Seventeenth century.

There is plenty of detail here.  Arms, dress, horse management, and unit organisation are all covered in detail as are methods and operations. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the Civil Wars will need this adding to his library.

 As with his previous books I found Mr Abram's research impressive down to the officer and sometimes lower ranks of individual dragoon companies. 

 This book will repay careful study.

Niggles- well yes . Illustrations are on the thin side, and some of them seem a bit incidental such as the covers  of pamphlets that are-very usefully- quoted from. There are no maps nor any colour plates other than the cover. This one is for military historians rather than wargamers, but that is as it should be and these niggles do not really detract from an otherwise excellent book. 



Monday 26 June 2023

Finished- well more or less.

 OK That is the Sikh wars book finished more or less- Text completed anyway along with the maps and some of the illustrations.


25BNI. A Foundry unit painted by my Co-Author James Main. 

This should be out before Christmas this year or so I'm told. I do still have a bundle of photos to take though I have about a dozen or more already in the bag. Still more to do though.

Sikh Regular dragoons Old Glory models painted by me. 

 Those in this short not will not be amongst those in the book.


Sikh High command . Old Glory figures painted by me. 

Right off to the photo 'studio' .

Tuesday 6 June 2023

The Second Battle of Fiddlers Rise June 1459

Early in the day. The Yorkist assault force.

 So once again the  Tantobie Warfare And Tactical Society meet in their new(ish) venue for a game. We had a total of five members this month and I was in the chair so decided upon a 40mm Wars of the Roses game. Shaun and new member Paul taking the Yorkists with Andrew and Steve taking up the sword for the House of Lancaster.

Early in the day. The Lancastrians occupy their palisade in the centre
Their right is on the hill of Fiddlers Rise.

Forces are currently quite small with  less than 200 models on the table for both sides . Rules are Tony Clipsom's set 'Foray' as our guide and your gentle author as Umpire..

 The scenario was based very loosely on the Battle of Blore heath- but without the mass of Lancastrian cavalry. Indeed the roles were reversed as the Lancastrians were on the defensive and the Yorkists had more troops so the attack was in their hands.

As it happened the fighting developed into a bit of a grinding match with neither side using anything resembling subtly, but then this was 1459.

The Yorkist cavalry advance.

 The game began with some mutual cannonading , each side hoping the others bombard would explode in an inconvenient manner which this time neither sides actually did though the crews suffered soem casualties and  one Lancastrian crew fled the scene early in the day.

The Yorkists decided on a full frontal attack using their Longbowmen to 'shoot them in' In the event this was less than successful as the Lancastrian defenders had more archers and used them- though with mixed results.  On the Lancastrian right the Yorkist assault was led by a contingent of Warwick's troops under Sir John Conyers. These chaps did not have a good day. After a bout of archery the ragged staff fell and Conyers was killed. The unit did not rout but halted and while not willing to run played little further part in the action other than archery, their attempt to close with the enemy resulting in a half hearted melee which  neither side actually won before a mutual breaking off..  This flank also saw the only cavalry action of the engagement. The small band of Yorkist horse charging the tiny contingent of the Earl of Exeter( not painted many of these yet)  Although Exeter's men were routed the Yorkist banner fell and rather than pursue the routers they fell back to 'consider their position'  and again took no further part in the action. 

Arrows fly.

In the centre the bulk of the Lancastrian archers stood behind their palisade and shot it out with the Yorkists not infrequently to little avail on either side though the Lancastrian artillery was silenced early on by a combination of Yorkist archers and their 'comedy bombard- which was not funny at all in this game.

The Yorkist advance grinds to a halt. 

With their momentum exhausted the Lancastrians did not look able to storm the Yorkist position but then neither did the House of York look capable of doing any more than staying put. Both sides had suffered significant losses with the worst  being on the side of Lancaster so this one was declared a bloody draw.

I as umpire need to tweak the rules a little- making 'counter battery' fire impossible- not merely inadvisable and tightening up some morale situations and command rules. Though most of this is simply organisation. I shall return to the 15th century later in the year . The Hoses of York and Lancaster will battle it out once more across the table.

 Thanks to Norman Oyston for the use of the venure and to Ros for the excellent hot beef - or indeed Pork sandwiches to sustain the innner wargamer ! 

Saturday 27 May 2023


 How many times over the years have you rebased your collection - or at least parts of it. It is a right faff for sure, so I try to avoid it where I can. As I don't do competitions this is usually not a problem.

However in recent months I have come to wonder about the way certain rules and 'games' now portray the units for their given period and how the 20mm frontage for most infantry and 25mm for many cavalry has evolved, and is it the best way?.

What started this train of thought was looking at some assorted 28mm Napoleonic models of various nations all on 20mm frontage bases and also quite a few of the often called 'standard' unit(of which in reality there was no such thing) . Seen as units the troops looked too spread out with lots of daylight between each man. Don't think it was like that. Look at the modern Trooping of the Colour or even a decent re-enactment unit. They move about with very little space between each man most of the time.

Now this does not apply in certain periods of course. 17th century chaps needing more room to perform their drills- and it was not because of the baggy  breeches ! . No they mostly moved about  with some little distance between each man so my ECW dudes (or is than now W3K dudes) can stay as they are.

 No this is really about my 18th century collections 7YW and AWI really but with some Indian stuff  as well and maybe some Marlburians.

My first Marlburian unit. The rank and file are on 15mm frontage the 'Command' figures are on 20mm frontage. My reasoning here being that they should be bigger targets in the Grantian style games these will hopefully one day be used in.

 Now I have heard the argument that the larger figures won't fit on  smaller frontage bases so I thought I'd try a few experiments and - so fat I have not found any major problem with infantry. though I am keeping the depth at 20mm per model, as the depth of the figure won't allow much reduction.

Reducing the frontage per figure from 20mm to 15mm obviously reduces the frontage of the whole unit by a quarter as well as making the unit look- dare I say- a little more 'realistic' in its tabletop appearance.

This awful picture nevertheless shows the difference in frontage on even these two tiny units
 actually 2 grenadier companies from different AWI units. Both groups are from the same pack of models Old Glory AWI21. The upper group's frontage is 60mm the lower 45mm.

Another shot showing the two differing frontages side by side. I definitely prefer the closer look..

Now I won't be changing all of my troops. This will only be  chosen units for certain types of game. My 30mm Stadden and Willie AWI collection will stay on 20mm frontage(and shiny!) Shinyloo will stay as it is, as will the nascent 'Shinynine'... but if I ever get around to the Peninsular well that - and India will be a different story.