Sunday, 7 February 2016

York 2016, A Rocky Mountain Rendezvous

                        Today was the first wargames show of 2016 for me, at York. For some reason it reminded me of a Rocky Mountain Rendezvous. [See explanation below of the term *]
Its probably a fanciful description of a wargames show, but I view York as a time to meet up with wargamers I havent seen since last year and generally catch up with what is going on, and what is planned by other gamers..
 This year, as part of my intention to clear some of my unwanted/ unfinished, not begun,wargames projects I took a bit of stuff down to their tabletop sale. As a consequence, I arrived early, ie an hour and a half before the place opened. I wanted to book a table for the first session, as I knew I had arranged to meet up with various people during the day, and I wanted to browse the halls.
 I was very kindly allowed to enter the show early, ie 09.15, and book the first slot in the table top sale. I would recommend the experience to any person wanting to sell on some stuff. One should however be realistic in their pricings, and also be prepared to bargain and haggle on the prices.
 The award for the mugging of the day [of me] goes to that cheapskate John [I am a poor pensioner ] Coutts, of Westerhope Wargames Group who weaseled some very nicely cast resin fortifications out of me, for the price of a bacon sandwich.
 I felt ashamed for him. He clearly knows no shame.
 Some wargaming items were clearly more popular than others. Anything involving Lord of the Rings? sold well. Well painted ECW was very popular, Well Painted Flames of War struggled?
 Is this signs of a trend.
 Anyway, I managed to sell a lot of stuff, although I couldnt shift any WRG lists or rules. Not even that cheapskate John Coutts was prepared to have them. Apparantly he doent use any commercial ruleset!
 After a quick cup of tea, it was off to meet up with some fellow members of the AMG group, and to chat about the coming weekender in Warwick. This is shaping up to be an interesting weekend, with Colin and I hopefully hosting two WAS games in 30mm, also members are putting on a 40mm SYW game, a large 28mm Sudan game, and a WSS game in 28mm.
 How good is that, a weekend of good crack, toy soldiers and beer.
 So having talked to fellow AMG members, it was off to meet up with Steve Lloyd a well known Sheffield wargaming entrepreneur who had kindly arranged to act as a go between in the sale of my very large 6mm Malburian armies.
 With an agreement in place, it was off back to the show to meet up with the illustrious Tony Runkee who had completed two regiments of French SYW cavalry for me.
 I bumped into enroute, probably the most generous wargamer I know, in Jason Williams, who travelling up from the South gave me the last of his 'spare' WHC renaissance painted figures.
 These were wonderful Acorn Miniatures Swiss, from the late Gilder collection, that he had surplus to requirements. Jason is what wargaming is all about, enthusiasts keen to talk about the hobby, and basically share items they dont need.
 If that wasnt enough Jason handed me an unwanted? £25.00 Warlord gift voucher as he doesnt use their range. I was for once totally nonplussed. I will think about what I should do with this kind gift.
 I then managed to bump into Pete Smith of Pete's Flags, who I hadnt seen for awhile. Pete is one of the most talented people I know, and has just completed a Franco Prussian flag commission, which I know will be of a very exacting standard. He has promised to return to the WAS, to create some more class standards.
Finally, I met up with the great painter, Tony Runkee.
 I had given Tony a large group of Elite castings, for him to work his magic on. When I had originally bought the figures, I had been disappointed with their sculpting, but Tony managed to give them a really first rate finish, although he had not been impressed with their style.
 So having rushed about al day, I finally managed to get a look around the show.
It was pretty clear that the show was popular, and that there had been a very decent turnout by the wargaming community.
 Games wise, I thought the number of demonstartion games on show had been cut, although the number of competition games on the third floor looked to have increased again on last year.

 I can only apologise for not taking many photographs at the show. It was remiss of me, especially as there were some very nice games. Of particular note was a Kings of War game [ sorry no image] and a South London Warlords game. I was impressed by a well terrained SYW encounter, and a good version of the Alamo. Both were well presented games.

 Whilst checking out the trade, I came across a cabal of top wargames painters chewing the fat.
 Its not often you get the painting talent together like this, so for posterity I surreptitiously took a couple of images [ a bit like a paparazzi ] of Ian [ the best painter in six counties, according to him anyway. David, [Painter to the stars] Jarvis.  Shaun [ collector and painter of very fine figures, and probably owner of one of the best collections around ] Lowery, and two neer' do wells, Tony Runkee, and Shaunt [ Ask Ian who painted his 40mm figures] Bryant.

    So did York live up to expectations? Well it was certainly eventful, and although I couldn't savor the first rendezvous of the year due to commitments, I thought the event was cracking.
 So well done York Wargames Group, the show goes from strength to strength.
* Rocky Mountain Rendezvous (in trapper jargon) was an annual gathering (1825–1840) at various locations held by a fur trading company at which trappers and mountain men sold their furs and hides and replenished their supplies. The large fur companies put together teamster driven mule trains which packed in whiskey and supplies into a pre-announced location each spring-summer and set up a trading fair—the rendezvous—and at the season's end, packed furs out, normally the British Companies to Fort Vancouver in the Pacific Northwest, and to one of the northern Missouri River ports such as St. Joseph, Missouri, if an American overland fur trading company.
Rendezvous were known to be lively, joyous places, where all were allowed- free trappers, Indians, native trapper wives and children, travelers and later on, even tourists who would venture from even as far as Europe to observe the festivities. It was described as a place full of  "Mirth, songs, dancing, shouting, trading, running, jumping, singing, racing, target-shooting, yarns, frolic, with all sorts of extravagances that white men or Indians could invent."

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Has anyone got any glue?

 As a retirement present, I bought and got constructed a shed/summerhouse in my garden. Well it looks like God had the last laugh, and sent the roof 10 yards over a nearby field. All that remains of the structure is the wall, ie one wall. So if anyone has any decent glue, I would be grateful.
 Oh and by the way, I dont think my insurance will cover the cost.  

Anyway, onto better things. A wargamer can always immerse themselves in their otherworld thank God. I have managed to get some painting done, due to the weather, so my Saxons, are moving along.
 The beauty about buying figures from RSM, is that there are always spare unwanted ones left. By that I mean, there is usually too many command and drummer figures. Similarly there is always a generous amount of artillery figures left. So as a little exercise I put together my first Saxon artillery piece and crew. The Saxon army painted their carriages with pitch and bitumen, so hopefully the colour is near the reality, and if not, sorry. Similarly they painted the ironwork a yellow, to match the ducal and royal colours.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Its a Funny Old Game.

Wargamers are I suppose much like other ordinary people. We may have a hobby that is looked upon as well, a bit odd, we may get excited at Hollywood war films for all the wrong reasons but at heart we suffer all the foibles and faults of everyone else. Here we are the last week of January and already my good intentions and hopes for this year [ mostly recorded I may add] are buggered.
 This year I hope to increase my blog readership, granted it is only January, I have lost TWO? people already [ Im starting to feel like Louis Van Gaal!]
  I promised myself to post weekly, it is nearly two weeks since the last post.
 I have promised myself, not to buy anymore wargaming figures or ephemera until I have shifted some of my stuff. However Warlord have released Plastic Hessians and artillery which has caused me some temptation, plus Charles Grant has released a new SYW book which has caused me a great deal of torment.On this however I am staying strong as I know that I need to clear the decks of various items.
 One thing that is fairly on track is to increase the number of games that I fight, and I think I have finally recovered from last weeks re fight of the Battle of Kolin, well just about anyway.
 Kolin from an Austrian viewpoint is a great opportunity to kick the skinny backside of Frederick, they have the position, the cavalry and for once some fair commanders.
 Well in real life they did, Field Marshal Daun and General Weid fought well on the day ably assisted by the excellent Nadasty.
  However enter stage left, the modern day version of Field Marshal Daun, moi. Once again the dice Gods had a field day pouring misery down on my head. I really think God is having a great time wetting himself laughing at my efforts to throw anything but a one or a two. What a let off for the struggling Prussians, still a very good game which reinforced for me anyway, just how good the Honours of War rules are. [ By the way, I am not the love child of Keith Flint, although I am impressed with his little rulebook.]
 I was re reading some oldish Miniature Wargames magazines last night [ I live the dream, you know] from 2010 ish, and in one Kevin Dallimore was asked for him what had been the most significant change in the hobby in the last twenty five years. An interesting question. He said the internet which was fair enough, me I had to think about it a bit [ love me, love me, but Im thick]
 Anyway, I have drawn up a list, because for me, I like tabulation.
 So the most significant changes are, in no particular order;
 Decent cheap Super Glue. [ I know]
 Great quality acrylic paint. [I do miss the smell of Humbrol paints, but for speed alone.]
 The plethora of relatively cheap books, crammed with information. [ Andy, it is a golden age for military research]
 The internet. [ Just for accessibility to other wargamers across the world, never mind the easy shopping]
The rise and fall of Games Workshop. A slightly controversial one this, in some wargamers eyes. But GW introduced a very high level of professionalism into the wargaming world, and more importantly they gave some excellent sculptors a chance to develop their talents. With their gradual demise, a lot of GW players and collectors seem to have made the transition into mainstream wargaming [ I would compare it to Airfix and how that company got a lot of the veterans started]
 A strange choice for me, as I didn't really get Warhammer.
 Anyway, so there's my list of significant changes to the hobby. If I thought harder, I would include more most likely, but every wargamer is different, and long may it remain so.


Thursday, 14 January 2016

An okay regiment.

I've noticed over the years that some units I buy and then paint take longer to complete than other units. Somehow I lose my mojo when painting the said unit, but then find I can paint the self same figure in a different uniform and have absolutely no problems.
I'm certain other wargamers have the same issue. I've found in the past that what I thought was unique to me, turned out to be very ordinary and common to other wargamers.
 I think its just my wish to be different that comes to the surface, followed by disappointment when I find my thinking is, just ordinary.
  Anyway, I had just such a problem with a unit of Black Hussar French Infantry, that I wanted to paint as the Garde Lorraine. What could go wrong, a yellow uniform with black facings, it looked dramatic in my reference books and I thought it would be an inspiring choice to make.
 Boy was I wrong, could I hell get the yellow colour I wanted, and then not only that, once I found a colour I could work with, I forgot how I got it.
 Anyway, I persevered and finished them. I would rate them as an okay unit, not my best, but not my worst, a sort of, just ordinary unit.
 Whilst battling with the Garde Lorraine, I started painting another unit of Black Hussar Prussian infantry as Saxon infantry. Although starting them much later than the French, I finished the unit today, at the same time as I finished the Garde Lorraine.
 The offending unit, resplendent in a totally inaccurate yellow, but one I found pleasing.

 One of my only gripes with Black Hussars, is that they do no cavalry or mounted officers, so I used an Elite figure on a Jackdaw horse. A little clumsy looking, but again it looks okay.

 The Saxon regiment, that was completed in much quicker time. Again Black Hussar, but this time I didnt use a spare mounted figure.
 The eagle eyed amongst you, will notice that one officer is in a lighter coloured green facing. He was my test figure, and once again I couldnt remember how I got that colour. He was too nice to re paint, sorry. The Saxons are for Colin and my game at the AMG in June, where hopefully by then I will have a few Saxon units to play around with.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

No Fubar.

  I always make the effort to read any comments placed on my blogs, and answer them in some probably flippant way. Anyway following my latest post, regarding a re fight of the Battle of Chotusitz and the vagaries of command ratings affecting the game, I noticed that Jim Purky of Minden Miniatures and SYW Association fame mentioned that he would never use such a mechanism. Nothing wrong with that, and I understand why some gamers don't like the uncertainty of having to throw command dice in order to move a unit or brigade.
 But it got me thinking as to when I made the step over to such a device and why I adopted it without any problem.
 I have followed the usual path for a wargamer of some years. I am of sufficient age to have been brought up on the Victor comic, the Commando book and Airfix soldiers. So naturally the wargames rules that I started with were, local club rules [ although I have never been the member of a club] Wargames Research Group and the odd printed tome,including the dreaded Bruce Quarrie Napoleonic rules.
 All the rules I have used in these years were fine and were of their time.The emphasis seemed to be upon complexity and attempting to make the rules appear realistic and mirroring war.
 Sometime in the 1980's, John Reidy my arch nemesis, made the quantum leap whereby he sold all his wonderful 25mm figures and replaced them with 6mm figures from the fast developing and wonderful Irregular Miniatures ranges. I followed suit, and with the change in scales we found that we needed a different type of rules. Ones that played the bigger picture. Initially we used rules written by John, and then along came Volley and Bayonet which provided a great and exciting game for the wargaming megalomaniac.
 The feature of all the rules that I used up to this point was that I could effectively when acting as the C n C, move any or all my army when reacting to a developing situation. I was safe in the knowledge that my imaginary orders would get through to the respective troops, and they would be acted upon as I had wanted.
 Not really realistic though. No fubar, no chance that the order didn't get through or was misinterpreted.
 Like most things in my life what happened next in my wargaming world, just evolved and was not pre planned.I began to hanker after the beautiful large figures that I had owned in the 1970's and 1980's and took the step of building up SYW armies in 30mm. A short while later the Black powder wargames rules came upon the scene and command rules were introduced into my wargames.
 With the release of the Honours of War and to a certain extent the Blucher rules, command ratings have developed and matured, allowing a fair degree of tension and uncertainty into my wargames.
 Nothing is now set in stone as regards a wargame, as witnessed by me in the Chotusitz re fight.
 Frustrating? yes. Annoying, perhaps, but it certainly adds to the game and makes one think carefully about what you are attempting to achieve, as you also should plan for a failed order as well as a unit being able to move.
 Do the use of command throws make the game more enjoyable and do they add something to the whole event. I certainly believe they do and I certainly think they bring a small amount of realism to the wargame as nothing is now certain.
 Its hardly ground breaking stuff, but it does add something to the whole wargame.
 I would hate to go back to being able to knowing that I could react to every situation with impunity.

                              No worries about the troops not being able to move in this game.


Friday, 8 January 2016

Chotusitz, a tale of two halves.

I've often noticed that after a particularly close and exciting wargame I have trouble sleeping that night. Our refight yesterday of the Battle of Chotusitz was no different and caused me a sleepless night. 
   The reason this time,was however caused by how Colin and I didnt actually win the battle as opposed to anything else.
 Chotusitz is a relatively small battle from the wars of Austrian Succession against that prig, Frederick.The Austrians were beaten after a closely fought struggle, where once again the Prussian infantry showed why they were the best in Europe.
 Yesterday I represented Duke Charles of Austria, ably assisted by Colin who led one half of the army.Facing us was John my old adversary and general thorn in ones side, and the talented Dave Jarvis representing Frederick. This was our third game using the excellent Honours of War rules, and was the first of the New Year.

                       The Brigadier in question, just prior to his demise and replacement. 

Although a little rusty after the Christmas lay off, we soon got back into the groove, and success came quickly to the Austrians on both flanks, where they had much better quality cavalry led by decent commanders. A key feature of Honours of War is the role of the brigade commanders, who as long as they are of sufficient ability can influence a battle greatly. Their role comes at a price however as they are constantly at risk when their command is fired upon. The feature is similar to Blackpowder, but the game mechanism is a tad more subtle and for me personally seems a lot better.Please dont ask me why, it just does.  Anyway, things were going to plan for Colin was gaining clear success on his wing, whilst I was pushing back the Prussians on my wing.
In the centre, where our infantry were situated, things were progressing and for a change were led by Dependable Brigadiers, which in the rules makes them solid but not too spectacular. Basically a decent typical Austrian. So by the lunch break, the Prussian right wing had all but collapsed, the Prussian left wing was retreating, and in the centre the Prussian infantry were pressed against the village of Chotusitz with the Austrian infantry advancing steadily, facing only a large heavy artillery battery and the dregs of the Prussian army.
 I should perhaps mention that the majority of the Prussian infantry had yet to come on table in their centre, but John was already bemoaning the quick collapse of his command and was on the brink of throwing the towel in. 
So prior to lunch I stood on the brink of wargaming glory, with my Austrian infantry poised to apply the coup de grace. Never again will I stop for lunch, certainly when I am on the brink of kicking Frederick's backside. 
Following our return,the victory was snatched away by a devastating volley from the Prussian artillery against our infantry. My infantry suffered several hits, but not sufficient to cause them too much trouble, but the risk to my brigadier was there for all to see.  
 In Honours of War, the opponent who has caused the causalities has the honour of throwing two six sided dice to see if they have hit their opponents brigadier.The risk is not too high as they need either an eleven or a twelve. True to form Mr Jarvis cheated up a score of 12! 
Again in the rules, after a commander is hit,he naturally needs to be replaced, and a simple dice roll decides of what ability he will be. You know where this is going, I threw my customary 1 which allows my replacement commander to have the abilities described in the rules as Dithering, but in this battle they should have been described as Daft if not down right dangerous.
For the next three moves this brigadier and his command failed to move.
 I was to fail three command roles in succession, so whilst  my centre stood, the Prussians gleefully poured fire into them, causing my command to simply melt away taking their supports with them.
 The irony was that no matter how many times the Daft Brigadier was tested to see if he was hit, Jarvis couldnt throw the correct score. The offending general stood like an immortal, impervious to all dangers. God knows I tried to get him killed. 
So in the end, with the arrival of the Prussian reinforcements, the battered Austrian Army had to scramble to obtain a draw, and even that was only just. So my sleep was destined to be disturbed thinking of that one small incident and that inept Brigadier.

            The Prussian heavy battery, just prior to it sweeping away the Austrian infantry.
[ Colin on his blog, Carry on up the Dale, will no doubt provide a more accurate and balanced report of the game]   

Sunday, 3 January 2016

War and Peace.

I try not to watch a lot of television, as I get bored fairly quickly, although at Christmas I do make an exception. Tonight however I will make an effort as the new Boewulf starts, which was filmed about twenty miles up the road. Also War and Peace starts tonight, which is a given that I will watch, even though it clashes with the new spy series based around Berlin. So wargaming will unfortunately take a back seat.
 One thing I have discovered is that buying some 54mm plastic action figures for a wargame is not as easy as I thought, and certainly not as cheap as I hoped. I am however very impressed with the number of people who use the scale and the material, and can see the attraction in the use of such figures.
 So between the Sci Fi movement, fantasy and now large scale plastic based battles wargaming seems to have even more sub genres than I thought. It just shows how insular one can become, and how out of touch with other peoples hobbies. All of which seem very relevant.
 I know, I stated that I intended to concentrate on a small group of periods, which is still my intention, but for the Middlesbrough show in July, which I would like to exhibit at, I thought a large scale Lion Rampant game would look pretty decent.
 I also thought that 54mm plastic figures would be better to handle for any would be wargamer, coupled to the need for the figures to take a few knocks along the way.
 So hopefully I will be able to source some decent figures, at a decent price. [Hopefully]

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating