Sunday, 14 September 2014

Favourite wargames poses.

Graham Cummings, of Cran Tara Fame, has been asking for suggestions of poses for his range of figures for the French Guard at Fontenoy. He wants to commission some different types of pose that I think will give move life to the unit, I may be wrong in this, but I think Graham is looking to have a unit that tells a story.
 The most famous images of the French Guard at Fontenoy is the one that graced the cover of the late Charles Grants book, Fontenoy, which is a wargaming classic.
 I think the poses in this painting would be perfect for a wargaming unit. The officer lining up his men, the NCO, standing at attention watching for any wavering fusiliers,the guardsmen, standing with musket at high porte, what a cracking unit this would make if Graham can get the painting replicated.
 I have just finished reading a biography of Maurice de Saxe, who obviously commanded the French at Fontenoy, and one of the things that he would have liked to have done away with, was the French armies tradition up until that time, of allowing the enemy to fire their muskets first, to disconcert the enemy by the French soldiers sang froid!
  Apparently the thinking was that the steadiness of the French soldiers acceptance of causalities would show the enemy what they were facing and disconcert them?
 Unfortunately at Fontenoy, the volley from the English guardsmen wiped out the front ranks of the French Guard, and allowed the survivors to take the sensible option of legging it.
 The other practice that Maurice wanted to do away with, was the tradition of the French officers standing in front of the ranks,facing the enemy, God help you if you were hated by your own men, never mind the English Army. Anyway, I hope Graham reads this post, and takes up my suggestion, and rewards me with a buckshee unit of the Guard for the idea. One can dream.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Border Reivers 2014

Well today was the Border Reivers Show at the Gateshead Stadium.
The venue is better than the Newcastle Arena venue which suffered from shit lighting and because it was based in the main foyer, the show also suffered from an impersonal feel to it.
 Gateshead is better, but not ideal. But then not many shows have really good venues. I like the York venue, but I know other wargamers don't. I also like the Derby venue, but again there was complaints about the noise and also the building.
I will come back to the venue malarkey in a moment.
Anyway, Border Reivers. Its nice to be able to actually have a show to go to, but like buses they come along in two's.Tomorrow is Partizan at Newark.
  No doubt there will be some nice games at that show, with some wonderful figures painted up to a great standard. Reivers certainly was not  up to that standard, but I still enjoyed the show, and in particular I was very impressed and inspired by the Westerhope Wargames Group, '£60 Wargame'.
 The idea was simple, but like most things simplistic it worked very well.
Basically buy loads of large plastic figures and accessories from Poundland, Poundstretcher and the like, give them a quick paint job and away you go.
 The game was a medieval one, with working catapults, siege towers, a castle and lots of figures all for £60.00!
 The terrain was plastic grass, and away you go. My grandson is only three, but what I saw from Westerhope got me wanting to copy the ideas and put on a game for him.Well done gents, a great game and a great idea. I would love to see this featured in Wargames Illustrated!
[I dont think thats going to happen somehow] Talking to Charlie Wesencraft, he was really impressed by the game, and was envious of the set up. Now that's a complement.

  I had a good look at Graham Cummings Crann Tara range for the Jacobite wars. This is a great range, which I know will grow quickly. I treated myself to a regiment of Irish Piquets, standing in reserve. I know I dont need them, but they were just too well sculpted to not buy. I have already started undercoating the figures. I also got some Seven Years War wounded figures from my old workmate Stu at Colonel Bill's, again these are wonderful figures, which are seated looking knackered, so I had to buy a cart to go with them.It will make a nice diorama. I also found a small biography of Marshal Villars, of Blenheim fame. It looked an interesting purchase. So with more paint, that I really dont need, more paint brushes and the figures,I had a fruitful few hours.  

 I loved the figure of the king, with his faithful hound.

  Members of the Westerhope group, looking pensive.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Like giving birth to an elephant!

This unit has been a longtime in the painting. I originally bought this unit from the author Iain Gale at least a couple of years ago. The unit was painted but was too small for my normal regiments, so after buying some extra figures, it just sat in a box gathering dust.
 Anyway after some cogitating I decided to paint it up and complete the unit. The trouble was I ended up virtually repainting the figures to fit in with the rest of my army. I have finally completed it and for some reason it proved a difficult set of figures to paint. I'm not certain why, as normally I enjoy painting Willie figures.
 I hope to take this unit along to Partizan 2015 in May with my small contingent of troops for the AMG game. I did cheat a bit I'm afraid as it doesn't contain the customary 36 figures. I later realised that I also have a half painted Minden Miniatures regiment that I have painted in the same facings, sat in a box somewhere. I cant decide what Im going to do about that though.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Blenheim,the refight.

Well I have returned from my break in Cleethorpes/Grimsby where I took part in the Grimsby Wargames Club re fight of the battle of Blenheim, done in 28mm!
Firstly I would again like to thank Paul Robinson for his immense efforts in staging this re fight. I know how much effort normally goes into such things, but Paul exceeded this by not only painting extra figures [all done beautifully  I may add] but also laying on additional personal scenarios for each player in the battle, entertaining us the night before, and generally being a perfect host.
 Secondly I would like to thank all the Grimsby club members who either took part in the refight or acted as umpires. The whole set up was an absolute pleasure.
 An additional observation was regarding the actual wargames club itself. I dont think there can be that many wargames clubs who actually own their own clubhouse, and I mean a bone fide brick building.
 The setup is probably the model of how a wargames club should work.
 I think its fair to say that I have come back re invigorated as regards wargaming in general and inspired about staging or participating in a historic refight.
 What better way to spend a couple of days than talking about wargaming and then playing in a lovely looking battle.
 I hope Paul will be writing an article of all his efforts, so I wont dwell too much on the detail of the battle, other than to say the allies won [ narrowly] and John Churchill [Me] enhanced the wargaming world with his tactical nous, although my dice throwing still causes me pain.
 Anyway I have taken a few photographs of the event, which I hope can do the battle some justice.

The original allied set up facing towards Blindheim.

Some of the extra figures painted up by Paul for the game. As per the wargame rules, the newly painted unit in the white [Spanish I think] did bugger all and routed at the first opportunity.
 Obergalu Village.

                                                                                                 Blindheim Village

These Austrian cuirassiers while looking the business, flattered to deceive and failed badly in the fight around Oberglau village.
 The next three photographs dont really do justice to the painting standard of the figures. I hoped that I would be able to sneak them off the table but I failed. They were all painted by Andy of the Grimsby club.

My troops in the centre, lead by Charles and John Churchill showing how it should be done. In reality I spent a lot of time scampering back over the fascine causeway as the French turned my troops back. 

The French Musketeers attempting to hold up [and succeeding] in holding up my pursuit of the routing French Guard who are at the edge of the table doing what they do best, running away.
 The French reserve brought on by Tallard,

 A great game and a great weekend.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Did they deserve the title' Great?'

I was re reading the latest Wargames Illustrated last night, and after reading Barry Hilton's article Personality Crisis I got to thinking as one is prone to do about history's treatment of certain of the 'great' war leaders.
 Now I know Barry, and we always say hello when I see him at various shows, in fact I always seem to come away with a feeling of inadequacy when I have seen some of his wonderful games.
 However, I do think he has it in for John Churchill. I am currently reading Winston Churchill's biography on his great relation and I know it may be a little biased, but to be fair Sir Winston does try to show both sides of the argument about the Duke of Marlborough.
 Barry blithely describes Marlborough as 'dropping his old drinking buddy'. Now I know Barry is just playing a bit of devils advocate, but reading about all the problems Marlborough faced during his tenure in charge of the Dutch/ Imperial forces and what he was able to achieve in spite of these issues, I think it could be argued John Churchill deserved the title 'Great', not that it would have gone down too well at home.
 Now the famous Greats, I think deserve to be looked at more closely. Frederick the Great in my eyes, and it is a personal view, was a little s@@t,, but of course Frederick the S''T doesn't have the same cachet.
 The one description that I feel sums Frederick up, was when he was applauding and laughing at some of his grenadiers beating up a Silesian peasant in order to get information.
 This is the man that legged it at Mollwitz at the first sign of defeat. Personally I think the Prussian rank and file carried Frederick to his title of 'Great', not that they received any thanks, after the war.
 As this is only a post I am unable to really elaborate on this point of view.
 This leads me on onto that giant of the battlefield Charles Xii of Sweden. In my eyes, he comes across as a complete inadequate. Again his army was a superb tool, and I think even Augustus the Strong of Saxony could have led it to victory.
 I am always suspicious of people who turn down the offer of a good time from a beautiful woman, in this case the mother of Marshal de Saxe, and instead leg it out of the door, only returning when the Countess Kongismark had rode away. I think his encouragement to hanging women and children in Poland in an effort to get supplies out of them shows the real stature of the man.
 I cannot argue with his bravery, or should that be recklessness but his legacy was to ruin Sweden.
No wonder that there is a strong suspicion that an assassin actually shot him through the head, to relieve everyone's misery.
 And then of course there is Alexander the Great, who I have alluded to in a previous post. The army that he inherited from his father Philip was far superior to any other army at that time. Quality and high morale will always beat numbers and poor morale.
 Alexander believed too much in his own immortality and not enough in what he was trying to achieve.
 His successor generals showed a far higher standard of tactical skill in their wars and most had a clear strategic goal. If greatness means having Colin Farrell play you in that dreadful film, then you can keep greatness.
 So where is this leading one may ask, well being a sad male I like lists, and I think it would be an interesting experiment to compile a list of commanders that deserved the title great, but never received the plaudit. For me it would have to be Marshal Davout who far outshone the rest of the marshalate and it can be argued that even Napoleon was envious of.
 The period when he commanded the third corps in Prussia and Russia showed the stamp of the man, and yes I know his troops were of a very high standard, but it was Davout that oversaw the training of them. I know its all subjective but greatness should be grasped and fought for, being able to write French poetry and playing a violin hardly constitutes greatness.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Mes Reveries

The last few weeks have been a very strange time for me what with a lengthy recuperation after surgery.
I think this has been the first time that I have been laid up, with a lot of time on my hands to try and fill. To most people this probably sounds like a great opportunity to get some painting in, but for me I really couldn't face picking up a brush, and to be frank I seriously kicked around the idea of packing war gaming in. Now a lot of wargamers reach that point in their war gaming lives, usually its to do with domestic problems, work, partners etc, some do actually pack in, most take a time out and then come back to carry on.
 I think with me its been a tad different, I wont go into any details but whereas I thought I had my war gaming future planned out things were turned on their heads and its taken some time to try and work out what I really wanted to do. This all sounds a bit vague, for which I can only apologise as this is a series of private matters between individuals.
  I have probably reached what most wargamers would aspire to, a purpose built room, a decent sized table, time to paint and disposable income to use on my hobby, wargaming nirvana and something that I once could only dream of. So what is the problem? There lies the rub, as there shouldn't really be one.
 Anyway, I am going to carry on. I am still going to post a blog and I am still going to paint.
 For the painting decision I have to thank Graham Cummings who has fired me up to paint some figures for Partizan 2015.
 The wargaming and blogging is a bit more problematical as I still haven't worked out how this will work, but at least I have typed this post, so there's a start.
 What I do intend to carry through with, is the sale of most of my collection of war gaming armies, not because I need the money, more to do with I dont really need them anymore.
 The title Mes Reveries seemed very appropriate as it was the title of a book written by Maurice,  Marshal de Saxe whilst he was laid up recovering from too much good living, a bit similar to my health problems, except I haven't been whoring everyday or drinking bumpers of port, [I wish.]
 His book was more to do with his ideas for a perfect army and his ideas of generalship. Most were flights of fancy some however were very revolutionary ideas.
 Unfortunately that's where the similarities ended, as I am struggling with any clear ideas at the moment.
   On a more positive note then, I bought a couple of first rate books over the last couple of weeks, one was titled Philip the Second [ Greater than Alexander] and the second was Marshal of France, the life of Maurice de Saxe.
 The book on Philip described how the father of Alexander created the Macedonian army from scratch and built a Macedonian state when at its lowest ebb. I came away thinking that Alexander just didn't compare to his father who was a greater general and a true statesman, whereas Alexander to me at least was just a chancer with no clear aim apart from undying fame, which he did achieve of course.
 The book on Maurice de Saxe, is a different kind of book, and is a real pleasure to read. It almost has a feel like the memoirs of Baron Marbot in that its writing style is quite humorous.My one abiding impression of Maurice de Saxe is that he knew how to live and crammed a lot into quite a short life.
 It would have been very interesting if he had inherited the Saxon state from his father. I certainly think that the Saxons would have posed a greater threat in Northern Germany if that had happened.
 So ignoring the doom and gloom, and hopefully ending on a more positive note lets see how next weeks big game in Grimsby pans out.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Time for Thinking.....2

For some reason I coudnt put any text with my original post,' A Time for Thinking'.
 The link is to showcase a local band from my local, who really are the dogs bollocks, and yes I know there is another band called the DB'S. But anyway what does that have to do with wargaming.
 Absolutely nothing, but the lads have a talent and I fancied something to cheer people up on my blog.
 So please play the song and admire the talent.
 Meanwhile I hope to have time to think about a few things and perhaps elucidate on these thoughts.

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