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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Reichenberg.

Now that Colin, has posted the battle of Reichenberg on his blog 'Carry on up the Dale', I can post some photographs from the battle that we fought at the weekend. What was in Charles Grants book quite a small affair, became quite a big affair. I wont go into the niceties of the actual battle, Colin has done it far better. But effectively the battle was the encounter before the large battle of Prague.
 The Austrians were in a prepared position, facing the majority of the Prussian army. In reality the Prussians quickly out outmaneuvered the Austrians, turned their flank and gave them a bit of a beating.
 On Saturday, I think its fair to say Colin and I, as the Austrian C in C changed history.
 Using Black Powder rules is a bit like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Me I really didnt like them, but as I continued playing with the rules, I have really come to enjoy the cut and thrust of them. My advice to anyone not liking the rules, is to stick with it, and hopefully you will see the light as it were.






There are always episodes in a wargames battle, that greatly effect a game. The photograph below of the Austrian Carabineers charging the flank of the Prussians was one.
 Ignoring the rules of commonsense, and offering my flank as a target to the Prussian grand battery, I managed to charge home unscathed into the Prussians. It shouldnt have been able to happen, as four guns target you, but it did. I think it was as big as a surprise to me, as to John who was leading the Prussian attack. The Follow Me rule in Black Powder can be a game changer, and although I was to inevitabley lose the commander after the charge, it was worth the risk. The Prussian attacks began to falter after the melee, and although the attack wasnt as effective as I had hoped, it turned what appeared a Prussian victory into an Austrian one.



 Of course there is always a down side to showing superior wargames generalship, especially when Neil, decided to lead his Prussian cavalry against the flank of my Hungarian Grenadiers, except his attack was nowhere as successful as mine and the grenadiers saw the charge off.
 All in all a very nice way to spend a Saturday.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Austrian Horse Grenadiers.

 Well I managed to find time this week to paint this unit for Colin's re fight of the Battle of Reichenburg, as the Austrians fielded a unit of Horse Grenadiers in the encounter. I surprised myself on how quickly I put these together and painted them. I still think that Peter Gilders designs for the horses in his Foremost range take some beating. They were ahead of their time in general design and movement.  There is always an issue in fielding a newly painted unit in a wargame, invariably they do badly and rout. Still they will look pretty as they flee the table.





Sunday, 8 March 2015

Is the Wargaming Convention Dying?

 
                                 [ A blast from the past, my re enactment of the Battle of Aspern Essling ]

So is the Wargaming Convention dying? as discussed by Gary Mitchell in  Wargames Soldiers and Strategy 77.
 On first reading of the article, I thought I would be annoyed, remembering the ire that Paddy Griffiths article Against Toy Soldiers caused me. However I think with age you tend to take a step back and attempt to be more mature in your response, that is if you can be actually bothered to make a response.
 On re reading the article Gary had some good points in the brief. We all accept that the hobby is graying rapidly, we all accept that younger would be wargamers are quite thin on the ground and we all understand that we need to attract younger wargamers if we would like the hobby to continue after our collective demise.
 The wargames convention is one area where there is a need for a rethink as it is probably the best way to reach the younger public, short of going into schools.
 The ideas put forward by Gary were all pretty much commonsense, some should be a given, other ideas are merely experimental.
 I think we have all griped and banged on about shows and what makes them good and what makes others frankly crap, but for me wargames shows have always been something to look forward to, but then I think I have a very childish gene.
   When reading the article what surprised me was my reaction to what Gary suggested about doing away with the 'demonstration game', instead of anger I actually started to agree with what he was saying, but in a more qualified way.
   Now I have been putting on demonstration games since John and I took our first game to a show at Whitley Bay in the early 1980's. It even got a mention in the Miniature Wargames magazine of that year, fame indeed and I have always thought we were attempting to put something back into the hobby from that early start. But to be honest were we deluding ourselves.
   As the shows continued our ambitions grew until John and I were bringing mega games to the shows, ie a one to one unit representation [ in 6mm] of the Battle of Blenheim, the Battle of Austerlitz, Waterloo etc. All took a considerable amount of effort, a great deal of research, [this was before the internet] and time and money [ both of which were in short supply]
 Were there new would be wargamers banging on the doors of the show to see these games? I dont think so.
 However as I have got older, and hopefully wiser, what I did find when we were putting on games was that wargamers and sometimes their children would be regular attenders at our table and we would talk about the game and the hobby, and the table and basically anything to do with the hobby. So much so that in the last few years we rarely get to actually play the damn game.
  So for me demonstration games have to be at Wargames shows, purely because if they are done well, they inspire, and encourage wargamers to excel in their painting and modelling skills and also gain information.

                            [ A blast from the past, my re enactment of the Battle of Aspern Essling ]

For me I think Gary got this suggestion a tad wrong. I know what he was actually alluding to, it was the unfriendly backs to the public, as the public stand next to the table hoping to find someone who will actually speak to them but are usually ignored.
 So what Gary should have actually suggested was that any wargamer who was making the effort to put on a demonstration game should also make the effort to talk in a friendly and non condescending way to the public, basically like 'the nutter on the bus'.
  Of course this is very difficult for some people, who lets be frank have trouble engaging in conversation with their mother who they probably still live with, but if one is prepared to put on a game, for God sake talk while you're stood there.
  As I write this post, an idea has been forming in my head as to how to get the younger element interested in wargaming, and the theme that keeps coming back is, what was I interested in when I was a teenager? and the answer was girls. So the solution to me is easy, each table, trader, etc hire one very pretty girl to stand next to their exhibit, looking bemused, handing out freebies, God we would be fighting off the teenagers then, and probably a lot of older wargamers to.
 Anyway to get back to reality, how can we, the current wargamers make certain that this hobby continues in its current recognisable form.
 A toughie this, given the trend that is modern day youth.
  I think we just have to be relaxed about it to a certain extent, plenty of children seem to be sharing a basic wargaming experience with their parents and from this will come some sort of continuation.
 I think the trend to allow children and partners to get into shows for free should continue, anything that is free has got to be good. The current trend for short, easy to play games is probably a good thing in that it allows younger people to engage in a form of wargaming, however I think they should have a very strong historical bias which would encourage the players to want to read and research their game and actually make it more relevant.
 Wargames clubs have a responsibility, and need to encourage teens to attend their clubs even if its just to play Warhammer etc. It is still a start. However once they do attend, older club members need to talk to them, otherwise the club is just small groups of people who never mix. I think this happens now and needs to be addressed [ mind this is coming from a wargamer who has never joined a club]
 I think the idea Gary put forward about craft stalls etc, is a non starter, and unless there is a martial slant to it, is frankly ridiculous. I know of a least one show that attempted to get model train enthusiasts to put on a table etc at a show, but it didnt really work.
 Lets be right, anything that is not of a wargaming nature at least has to have some relevance to the wargamer and the potential new recruit.
  One should also consider what exactly young people do with their time and how they think. Now thats a difficult one for me as I avoid young people like the plague, merely because we have nothing in common, but there are lots of wargaming parents, and wargamers that actually converse with these groups, so please say what exactly floats their boats and use this knowledge.
 [ It cant be just texts, sextexts and ennui]
 One thing that I always thought would make a good participation game and would be impactive to the younger would be wargamer was the Harry Potter series of books. There must be a decent participation game in that series, and everyone knows of the books and films.Perhaps a Quiditch game similar to Blood Bowl. [Just a thought]
 Talking of which television and new films are always areas where young people have an interest, so perhaps this is an area again where we could make inroads into catching their attention. That terrible film Fury is a case in point, also the Transformers series.
                              [ A blast from the past, my re enactment of the Battle of Aspern Essling ]

The biggest problem that wargaming in general has [ at least for me] is the lack of a governing body. Now before everyone starts demanding my burning, what I actually mean is that to have a uniform approach, there would be a need for a body to make certain that all shows and clubs were singing from the same song sheet. This is never going to happen, and I must admit it is only in respect of a corporate response to the greying hobby that I would welcome a governing body.
 I suppose a second best response would be for some club to stage a new type of show, aimed at attracting new wargamers which became a huge success.
 Success would invariably be copied and the hobby could then grow. So wargaming is in a bit of a quandry, how do we survive in sufficient numbers and in a form that would be recognisable.
All answers on a postcard please, to the Central Wargaming Governing Body.

 





 




 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

When my Mojo stalls.

 Like a lot of wargamers, my painting mojo will struggle, and I will stop painting units. What I have found helps me to restart the painting process, is to paint up command and single figures just to get things moving again.
 Its quite amazing just how many single painted figures I seem to now have, which either means I lose my mojo often, or I should consider going in for skirmish games. Either way I do find it helps me.
 I was very kindly sent a box of Willie horses the other week, and I have found that Front Rank figures fit them very nicely. Front Rank aren't my favourite SYW figures but they do go well with Wiilie. So I am now going to paint up a unit of French Gendarmes of the Guard, it would be daft not to use the horses.



Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A Nostradamus Moment.

I was re reading the latest edition of Miniature Wargames the other night, [ issue 382] struggling to find something mildly interesting, when I read an article by Mike Hobbs, titled Passing the Torch.
 Basically in order to answer the doom laden predictions of various wargamers of maturing age, Mr Hobbs described the goings on at the Cardiff Wargames Club, which sounds a pretty decent set up.
Its always interesting to come outside of my wargaming bubble and find out what the future holds for wargaming in general. Somehow I dont see the future as too bright.
 Its clear that wargaming in Cardiff is thriving which is great news, what also appears clear is that if this is replicated across the United Kingdom, and the world, then wargaming as I have known it is fast disappearing.
 It could explain the increasing trend that I have seen at wargaming shows, in rules, and in figure manufacturers for much smaller, skirmish type, history light wargames.
 If the Cardiff group is typical, and I cant see why it shouldnt be, then the new breed of wargamers is fixated upon lists of units that have 'special'  abilities,equipment, and such like, in fact that old chestnut, 'List Building' a la Wargames Research Group like wargaming.
Basically attempting to find a unit of troops with that winning ability. God help us!
 So the next generation of wargamers appear to want the following,
1] rules that are easy to learn and play[ fair enough]
2] they want figures that are quality castings [again fair enough]
3] they dont want to spend a lot of time researching the history around the game they are fighting, hence the popularity of rules such as Flames of War, Saga, Bolt Action etc, where everything is basically in the book provided.
4] Apparently a big plus for the new generation of wargamers is List Building, that is the ability to trawl through the rules purchased to find a winning combination of troop types which then go on to sweep the wargame field of their opponents.
  Lists have always troubled me. Who has compiled these lists? Which expert, who must have knowledge that no other historian of wargamer possesses is able to draw up a list abilities and equipment that can create a super unit.
 I was always stumped when Bruce Quarrie brought out his Napoleonic rules with table of National characteristics, right so you want to be Spanish, well that means your sneaky, lazy, stupid and cruel, that will be a 5 factor then. Christ is that what the future holds for wargaming. Come on, surely the last fifty odd years has producded something more than this.
   As touched upon earlier, I have noticed for a while a trend towards much smaller display games, fewer figures and occasionally abstract games.I think I now understand why this is, obviously the new generation of wargamers is exhibiting the type of games that they see as the future of wargaming.
 Its like being told that the world isn't flat, and the Pope isn't infallible.
    I think if this is the future then a lot of wargaming companies had better re appraise their business plans, because their latest release, of well researched historical figures is going to crash and burn.
 I also advise them to consider producing a set of simplistic rules, filling it with loads of lists of obscure weapons and attributes and then producing a small range of very expensive toys with stick on bits. Oh and charge shit loads of money for each upgraded figure.
 They could even change the name of their companies to something like Games Research Workshop Group.
  Any wargamer who has taken the trouble to paint a Spanish Napoleonic army [ me] or a Neapolitan Napoleonic army [me] has become obsolete overnight, because clearly the underdog is finished.
 The future looks to hold, super units consisting of the SAS on steroids, or a whole army of Imperial Guardsmen drunk on winning. Now is that what wargaming should be about?
I am clearly showing my age here, but perhaps the older wargamer who attends these clubs, ie Cardiff, should consider setting up a more historic game, for these youngsters and attempting to show them that its not all about small ready made simplistic games, but actually wargaming is also about reading about history, researching various armies, and generally attempting to learn as you are having fun.
 The final paragraph in the Mike Hobbs article says its time to pass the torch to the new safe pair of hands belonging to the next generation.
 Personally I would rather use the lit torch in a more delicate place.
Here endeth the rant................
                           
           








Sunday, 8 February 2015

Lobositz, a battle won and then lost?

Yesterday I attended the refight of the Battle of Lobositz at Colin's.Paul Robinson of Grimsby Wargames club fame, did the long drive North to play in the game. I wont spoil what I anticipate will be on Colin's blog, 'Carry on Up the Dale ' but instead will only show some of the images I took during the day.The image above shows Paul ringing for a taxi to take him away from the battle as the Prussians commanded by him and John Reidy were getting a severe thrashing by the Austrians led by me and Colin. That was before dinner. Now everyone knows wargaming is a game of two halves, and after dinner it was fair to say my command was annihilated by John and Paul.
I still cannot believe how a wargame that Colin and I were winning, and winning well could turn so dramatically wrong and end up with a severe defeat for us.   

               Colins command ensconced in Lobositz, they were never troubled by the Prussians.

 My grand tactical march onto the flank of the emerging Prussian army, when all seemed to be going well.





 When best laid plans go t##ts up. Prussian dragoons hitting my weakened cuirassiers. One can guess what happened next.
                                          Yes that's correct, the flank began to be rolled up. If one looks carefully, you can see Paul's infantry approaching to give my Austrians the killing blow.

                                   Prussians, thousands of them, and very unforgiving ones at that.



I knew things had become desperate when all I had to stop the Prussian advance was som Austrian Hussars. Needless to say it wasnt to be.




           
These were the detritus of my command leaving the battlefield. A unit that had never actually been on a wargaming table before. 


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Wild Geese, done!

 Well I've completed my Wild Geese Brigade, and I am glad to see the back of red uniforms. To be fair the figures were a real pleasure to paint, but red can be a probmatical colour, well at least for me.
 Ive added a couple of Irish Brigadiers to complete the units, and now look forward? to Crann Tara releasing the Fitzjames Horse so I can complete the Irish contingents.I didnt photograph my fifth Irish regiment,because being Willie figures they are so very different from most of the other units.
 Anyway, there they are, I now just have to decide what attributes to endow on them from the Blackpowder book. You have to give the units some special qualitity otherwise they just wouldnt be the Irish.







 I also completed another unit of French cavalry, to bolster the cavalry units. RSM figures are a pleasure to paint,and I find I can knock them off pretty quickly given some spare time. Oh to finally retire, whilst still fit enough to paint.



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